Colorado is dropping out of the multistate lawsuit challenging the T-Mobile and Sprint merger after reaching agreements with Dish Network and T-Mobile. The Colorado Attorney General's Office announced the decision on Monday.
As part of the deal, Dish will locate its wireless headquarters at the Riverfront facility in Littleton, Colorado, and keep it there for at least seven years. The company also promised to add at least 2,000 full-time jobs to the state. Further, Dish will make Colorado one of the first 10 states where it launches 5G service by 2023. The company faces penalties of up to $20 million if it fails to meet these commitments.
T-Mobile, meanwhile, has pledged to deliver at least 100Mbps 5G download speeds to at least 68 percent of the Colorado population, including at least 60 percent of people in rural areas, within three years of the merger. The company will further increase the coverage to at least 92 percent of Coloradans over the next three years. Rural arear coverage will also see an increase to cover at least 74 percent of people.
Lastly, T-Mobile will offer new low-priced plans to consumers in the state. These Colorado-exclusive plans must cost $15 or less per month for unlimited talk, text, and 2GB of data, and $25 or less per month for the plan with 5GB of data. T-Mobile faces financial penalties of up to $80 million if it fails to keep up its end of the bargain.
According to Monday's announcement, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is happy with these promises from Dish and T-Mobile. She is no longer concerned the merger will hurt consumers in the state.
T-Mobile-Sprint merger lawsuit
T-Mobile and Sprint, the third and fourth biggest carriers in the US, announced a merger last year, so as to better fight against the two heavyweights, AT&T and Verizon. However, a group of state attorney generals filed a lawsuit against the merger in June this year, saying it will harm competition and raise prices. The multistate lawsuit was spearheaded by the New York State Attorney General's office.
The $26.5 billion merger, however, has already received approval from the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) after T-Mobile and Sprint managed to strike a deal with Dish Network. The settlement will see Dish acquire Sprint's prepaid businesses and spectrum, as well as get access to T-Mobile's network. The company will eventually emerge as the fourth wireless carrier once the merger goes through. This preserves the government's goal of having four competitors in the market.
Dish aims to build a standalone 5G network that will be available to 70 percent of Americans by June 2023. It will start accepting proposals from contractors for site acquisitions, construction, and other elements involved in standing up the company later this month.
As far as the lawsuit is concerned, Colorado is the second state to back off from it. Mississippi left the suit earlier this month after reaching its own deal with T-Mobile. Sixteen other state attorney generals, however, are still pushing to block the merger. The trial is set to begin in Manhattan on December 9.