Justice Department staffers have told T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. that their planned merger is unlikely to be approved as now structured, according to people familiar with the matter, casting doubt on the fate of the $26 billion deal.
A final decision on the deal is likely near the end of the 180-day Federal Communications Commission review period that expires in June.
The Obama administration rebuffed the companies' earlier effort to merge, as well as an attempted deal between AT&T and T-Mobile. Sprint is also pushing the merger, though not as publicly as T-Mobile.
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If you believe T-Mobile, the Sprint merger is completely, 100% necessary for it to field a 5G network that is competitive with Verizon and AT&T. The Justice Department declined to comment.
T-Mobile US Chief Executive John Legere was in Washington on Tuesday and has meetings later this week at the FCC, two people briefed on the matter said.
Today's report also says that some state antitrust officials have similar concerns about the T-Mobile-Sprint merger and that they plan to launch a legal challenge to the deal if the Department of Justice doesn't oppose it.
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"@TMobile. That process is ongoing", Claure wrote on Twitter.
According to people familiar with the matter, the DOJ's antitrust division is concerned that the merger would threaten competition in the market. House Democrats grilled the companies in a hearing in February. The ball is in T-Mobile and Sprint's court to convince our government that a merger of the two carriers won't be a bad thing. Public-interest and labor groups have raised concerns about wireless price increases and job cuts.
Legere has also pledged to build 5G without using networking equipment from Huawei Technologies Co Ltd or ZTE Corp, two Chinese telecommunications firms distrusted by USA national security experts.
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