Dish, Altice Want T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Blocked

Dish Network and Altice USA are pushing for the American government to block T-Mobile and Sprint's proposed merger, as revealed by their latest regulatory filings. Dish representatives wrote they aren't buying the 5G part of the consolidation pitch, claiming the need for T-Mobile and Sprint to combine their operations in order to stay competitive in next-generation telecommunications has been overblown by the two firms. Likewise, the cable and satellite juggernaut argued an unconditional tie-up approval would likely result in rising prices for consumers.

Altice raised similar concerns but also highlighted a number of more specific issues with the proposed deal valued at some $26.5 billion. The company is opposing the consolidation and has urged the Federal Communications Commission not to approve it without significant concessions, including a provision that would force the combined entity to honor the agreement it signed with Sprint in late 2017. After T-Mobile and Sprint's second-to-last merger attempt failed, the Overland Park-based telecom giant promptly announced a partnership with Altice that would allow the latter to become an MVNO in 2019. Altice would now go as far as to force T-Mobile and Sprint to divest some of their spectrum meant to be used by smaller wireless carriers, the firm said in its latest filing with the FCC.

Altice said it's pushing for the concessions because it's skeptical about T-Mobile's willingness to support its planned expansion. After the company becomes an MVNO next year, it still won't be able to sell smartphone plans outside of its current markets, though it's harboring nationwide ambitions. The FCC is expected to issue a response to Dish and Altice's filings in the coming weeks. Industry analysts are still unsure about the outcome of the proposed consolidation, whereas T-Mobile and Sprint remain convinced that the deal will be approved by Washington in the first half of 2019. Besides the FCC, the merger attempt is presently also being reviewed by the Department of Justice.

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