Security Agencies Ask FCC to Pump Brakes on T-Mo-Sprint Deal

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Several federal agencies asked the FCC to defer action on the T-Mobile acquisition of Sprint because of national security concerns. “Team Telecom,” comprised of representatives from the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense, reviews national security implications of proposed mergers involving foreign-owned telecommunications firms, reports Politico.

T-Mobile is a subsidiary of Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, and Japan’s Softbank owns a majority of Sprint. They say their review of the deal, valued by the parties at $26 billion, for any “national security, law enforcement, and public safety concerns” is not yet complete, in a letter to the FCC. T-Mobile and Sprint told the Commission in June, they have mitigation agreements with U.S. national security agencies because of their foreign ownership and anticipate compliance with new conditions would be part of their merger approval.  

Meanwhile, Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) is drafting a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, raising national security concerns about the proposed merger, reports Politico. In the draft, Pittenger notes Softbank has a “documented history” of working with Chinese telecom Huawei and the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint would “increase the telecommunications risks associated with third-party foreign entities, including Huawei, being [used] in the development of U.S. 5G infrastructure.” U.S. national security agencies say Huawei could use its telecom equipment and technology to spy on the U.S. government and citizens, allegations the company denies.    

July 31, 2018

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