T-Mobile-Sprint Merger Nears Justice Department Approval

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T-Mobile and Sprint have had a rocky road this last year, but sources say T-Mobile is nearing the Justice Department's approval over its upcoming merger.

Satellite company Dish has expressed its interest in acquiring T-Mobile and Sprint spectrum as well as Boost Mobile, the Sprint MVNO that's been tangled up in all the merger mess. While this was a concession the DoJ wanted T-Mobile to make early on, T-Mobile has also had to offer more concessions to appease the DoJ since then, such as additional Sprint MVNOs Virgin Mobile and the Sprint brand Sprint Prepaid.

Dish will get to sell T-Mobile wireless service under the Dish brand for six to seven years, and T-Mobile must support prepaid customers from Sprint's Boost and Virgin brands for three years as they transition to Dish for wireless service.

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The DoJ's request that T-Mobile sell off more than just Boost Mobile comes from its desire to see competition remain as stiff as ever. Democratic Attorneys General who filed a lawsuit along with some US states to stop the T-Mobile/Sprint merger have said that combining these two carriers will reduce competition from four carriers to three.

The DoJ wants to be sure that Americans have four wireless carriers, so much so that it's forcing T-Mobile and Sprint to give away two carriers plus Sprint prepaid to seal the deal. Boost and Virgin will become the fourth carrier to replace Sprint Corp. per the DoJ's goal.

It's uncertain that Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile will ever equal the toughness of what T-Mobile and Sprint will bring as "the New T-Mobile" because both Boost and Virgin have always been small brands with small customer bases. Sure, if the DoJ wants a fourth carrier, these two can become an even bigger prepaid brand than before, but their reach has been practically small in the wireless industry anyway.

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T-Mobile has said that it didn't need Sprint to roll out its 5G network but that Sprint's 2.5GHz spectrum would ensure a faster 5G network rollout. And with this strength and resources between T-Mo and Sprint, Boost and Virgin would've done even better under The New T-Mobile label because of the spectrum, 5G, and wider financial resources.

Though Dish network can sell wireless service for six to seven years under the T-Mobile brand, it's difficult to see customers doing a deal with Dish when the company's satellite business is already losing numbers.

Dish is not doing well, which is the reason why Dish billionaire chairman Charlie Ergen is looking to do something with the spectrum he has before it's stripped from him. With a failing satellite business, and Ergen's previous attempts to acquire T-Mobile and Sprint, Ergen sees an opportunity to enter into a new business venture that will prove to be far more lucrative than Dish Network has been.

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Satellite service is going the way of the dinosaur, as customers prefer internet TV streaming to satellite and cable. Selling customers wireless service, then selling them internet TV service, is too easy of a sale per customer for a billionaire like Ergen to ignore.

If the details are finalized for Dish to acquire Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, the deal could go through next week. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has already approved the $26.5 billion merger, thanks in large part to T-Mobile's claim that it will roll out its 5G network (wireless and broadband) to even rural areas within six years. Other concessions include not raising prices for three years after the merger and creating thousands of new jobs post-merger.

Sprint and Dish shares climbed some after the news of a near DoJ approval, with Sprint's going up 1.7% to $7 and Dish's rising 2.3% to $40.07 earlier this afternoon.

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Staff News Writer

Deidre Richardson is a tech lover whose insatiable desire for all things tech has kept her in tech journalism some eight years now. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned BA degrees in both History and Music. Since graduating from Carolina in 2006, Richardson obtained a Master of Divinity degree and spent four years in postgraduate seminary studies. She's written five books since 2017 and all of them are available at Amazon. You can connect with Deidre Richardson on Facebook.

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