State AGs Say ‘Hold That Gavel’ on Sprint-T-Mo

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The state attorneys general challenging T-Mobile’s proposed $26 billion acquisition of Sprint want a federal judge to hold off on issuing a decision about the settlement reached by the telecoms with the Department of Justice that would allow the deal to close. U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly in Washington, D.C., is overseeing the DOJ’s proposed settlement with T-Mobile and Sprint. It would require them to sell assets to DISH Network so the satellite TV company can enter the market as a fourth nationwide wireless company.

Meanwhile, in New York City, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero recently completed the states’ two-week bench trial. He’s set to issue a decision in the coming months, reports Politico. States argue that decision should come first. “Because Judge Marrero is tasked with deciding the merits of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger as a whole and is currently in the process of doing so, this Court need make no such determination in this case,” the states said in a brief filed late Friday. 

Kelly invited third parties to offer their opinions on the DOJ’s settlement by Friday, Inside Towers reported. Several did. Five economics and law professors criticized the DOJ’s settlement, highlighting a number of statements from the states’ trial that cast doubt on DISH as a viable competitor. NTCH, a wireless radio operator that builds and leases cell towers, asked Kelly to delay his decision until after an appeals court rules in a separate case related to DISH’s spectrum holdings.

Supporting the merger was INCOMPAS, a trade group representing internet and telecoms that counts DISH as a member. The association said the deal would lead to better service and lower prices, particularly in rural areas.

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