Louisiana's attorney general is the latest to join five other Republican state attorneys general and the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) in legal efforts to support the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. The other states are Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
The states joined with the DoJ’s antitrust division last month in a deal that would resolve their concerns about the state of wireless competition and create a fourth competitor in the form of Dish Network. The terms include the divestiture of Sprint’s prepaid business to Dish, as well as an MVNO agreement and providing certain spectrum assets to Dish.
According to Louisiana’s Attorney General Jeff Landry, the merger would provide “dynamic competition” to markets historically plagued with insufficient choices and stagnant competition in areas like rural Louisiana.
“Louisiana citizens living in rural communities deserve meaningful competition and reliable service,” Landry said in a statement. “I strongly support the proposed settlement and merger as the new T-Mobile will increase competition and prioritize rural expansion.”
In its promises to the government, New T-Mobile has pledged to deploy a 5G network with low-band coverage to at least 90% of the rural U.S. population. It also promised to accelerate and increase the in-home broadband service deployment in rural areas, with the number of supported rural households to be about 300,000 more within three years, and about 400,000 more within six years from closing.
The DoJ’s antitrust division head Makan Delrahim last week commended FCC Chairman Ajit Pai for circulating a draft order approving the merger with conditions. The draft order is headed for consideration by the full commission, although an increasing number of groups are calling for a public comment period on the latest terms.
Louisiana’s move contrasts with that of Oregon, which was the latest to join a mostly Democratic state-led effort to block the deal, with Texas so far being the lone Republican state, albeit a big one, in that camp. The 16 states that want to block the $26.5 billion merger say it would violate anti-trust law, lead to higher prices and eliminate jobs.
At the time their filing was made in June, New York Attorney General Letitia James said they had particular concerns about the prepaid segment even with the divestiture of Sprint’s Boost Mobile unit .
After it was announced that Dish would be getting the Boost and other prepaid assets from Sprint, she and the other state attorneys general said they continue to have serious concerns about the merger and the ability of Dish to be a fourth independent competitor, citing Dish’s past broken assurances to the FCC.