House Antitrust Chief Calls for More Public Scrutiny of T-Mobile-Sprint Deal

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The Chairman of the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee is pushing the FCC to invite more public comments on the proposed T-Mobile-Sprint merger.     

“The proposed transaction is presumptively illegal under decades of black letter law and the Justice Department’s merger enforcement guidelines,” wrote Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), in a letter to the agency, reports The Hill. His argument, and those of other critics, such as the Rural Wireless Association and NTCA – The Broadband Association, is that the new concessions agreed to by the telecoms for the Department of Justice approval dramatically changes the transaction.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced last Wednesday he circulated a formal draft order that would approve the deal under the DOJ conditions, namely the selling off of assets to Dish so that it can build a fourth wireless competitor. The three-member GOP majority at the Commission has said it will support the deal. 

An FCC spokesperson dismissed the calls for more public comment. “This transaction has been pending in front of the Commission for more than a year, and there have been multiple public comment cycles,” a spokesperson told The Hill. “Moreover, the commitments offered by T-Mobile and Sprint to the Commission have been public since May, and many parties have submitted comments about them. The time has come for Commissioners to vote and for this proceeding to be brought to a close.”

Even if the transaction gains FCC approval passes, it won’t be final. Sixteen state attorneys general filed a lawsuit seeking to block the merger.

August 19, 2019   

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