Arkansas backs T-Mobile/Sprint merger

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said the agreement will help connect customers in rural parts of the state to 5G. (Pixabay)

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Friday announced that Arkansas was joining eight other states in supporting the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) settlement that approves the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint.

The settlement will make Dish Network the fourth nationwide provider of retail mobile wireless services after a period of time when it operates as an MVNO using T-Mobile’s network. Rutledge’s office said that in addition to protecting competition, the proposed settlement will expedite the availability of 5G networks for Arkansas consumers.

As it has done with other states that are now backing the merger, T-Mobile promises to connect customers particularly in rural parts of the state, boosting education and economic opportunities. Other states in the proposed settlement are Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

RELATED: T-Mobile, Dish entice Colorado to drop its merger opposition

Under the terms of the proposed settlement, T-Mobile and Sprint must divest Sprint’s prepaid business, including Boost Mobile, to Dish. The proposed settlement also provides for the divestiture of certain spectrum assets to Dish. In addition, T-Mobile and Sprint must make available to Dish at least 20,000 cell sites and hundreds of retail locations. T-Mobile must also provide Dish with access to the T-Mobile network for seven years while Dish builds out its own 5G network.

Dish's wireless moves

Dish went a long way toward establishing its commitment to become a viable competitor with the hiring of wireless industry veterans Marc Rouanne and Stephen Bye. Rouanne will serve as chief network officer overseeing the strategy and architecture of the network, including its core, cloud and edge. Bye will serve as chief commercial officer to lead commercialization of wireless products and to develop enterprise business relationships. Both will report to Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen starting in December. 

Ergen has said Dish’s network will cost less than other carriers’ networks because Dish plans to use next-gen technology, which relies more on software than expensive proprietary hardware. Indeed, operators like Rakuten in Japan have shown they can realize big cost reductions by deploying a virtualized network based on open RAN.

RELATED: T-Mobile ponies up 5G commitments for low income families, first responders

Also last week, T-Mobile announced it will debut its nationwide 5G 600 MHz network on Dec. 6, just a few days before the trial is due to start with the states that are opposed to the merger. At the same time, T-Mobile released a new set of commitments, contingent on its deal getting approved, that are geared toward families with children, public safety and price-sensitive consumers, all designed to put pressure on attorneys general to settle.