Antitrust Panel Holding T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Hearing In June

A subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee responsible for antitrust cases will be holding a hearing on the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint next month, the panel said Wednesday. The details of the gathering scheduled to take place on June 27 remain largely unclear, with no witnesses or experts being announced yet, making it unclear who exactly will be questioned on the matter. T-Mobile Chief Executive Officer John Legere and Sprint's head Marcelo Claure already met with the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission some two weeks back, having discussed the preliminary details of their proposed tie-up.

The two companies filed the official merger paperwork earlier this month, reiterating their belief that the consolidation will be approved in the first half of 2019, though many analysts continue describing that timeline as highly optimistic in light of recent industry developments and antitrust policies enforced by Washington. Even AT&T's Time Warner acquisition is presently being attacked by the DOJ in the court of law even though it doesn't eliminate any competition from the wireless market, nor does it remove any players from the entertainment segment. With T-Mobile and Sprint proposing to reduce the number of national carriers from four to three, U.S. regulators may scrutinize their merger attempt even more aggressively.

The tie-up, valued at $26.5 billion, would see Sprint being absorbed by T-Mobile, with the duo arguing that only combined can they ensure timely deployment of 5G infrastructure and push their two larger rivals to do the same. Neither Verizon nor AT&T opposed the consolidation and apparently remain unconcerned about the prospect of their two smaller competitors joining forces. Consumer advocacy groups are arguing the consolidation would most significantly hurt the poorest consumers in the country by removing the amount of competition in the prepaid wireless segment where T-Mobile and Sprint are presently dominating. Under the current proposal, T-Mobile's MetroPCS would be merged with Sprint's Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA under a single brand.

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