T-Mobile-Sprint merger officially approved by federal judge

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Though the FCC has approved the massive Sprint-T-Mobile merger, hurdles still remain.
Image: Cody DeBos / The Burn-In

After several months of debate and lawsuits, the landmark merger between T-Mobile and Sprint has finally cleared its last legal hurdle. Early Tuesday morning, federal judge Victor Marrero from the District Court in Manhattan ruled in favor of the $26 billion acquisition. This is huge news for the third- and fourth-largest U.S. wireless carriers respectively.

Both T-Mobile and Sprint have reemphasized that the merger is in the best interest of both consumers and competition. The two will now work on completing the final steps of joining up, including divesting some assets into the hands of Dish to ensure that there are technically still four major wireless carriers.

What Does the T-Mobile-Sprint Merger Mean for Consumers?

T-Mobile has been eyeing a merger for some time now with aspirations of completing it by early 2020. Thanks to Tuesday’s ruling, it appears that things will remain on track.

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For consumers, the news should come as a good thing. While anti-competitive fears always circulate around large acquisitions, all indications suggest that both companies are committed to improving wireless service for consumers as part of the merger.

In November, The Burn-In reported that the New T-Mobile will begin offering a budget plan that gives subscribers 2GB of high-speed data for just $15 a month. They will also be able to increase that allowance to 5GB and pay $25 a month. The plan will give users access to T-Mobile’s recently launched 5G network and the data allowance increases automatically each year a person stays subscribed.

Meanwhile, the carrier has announced that it also plans to spend $10 billion to provide free service for 10 million households in an effort to close the “homework gap” for underserved children.

With these changes in mind, the merger should bring a lot of positives to consumers. Not to mention the benefit of combining Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks to provide better coverage in more areas. The latter says that it may take up to three years to completely migrate customers to its network.

In response to the ruling, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said, “Today was a huge victor for this merger… and now we are FINALLY able to focus on the last steps to get this merger done! We’ve said it all along: the New T-Mobile will be a supercharged Un-carrier that is great for consumers and great for competition.”

What Happens Next?

Although the huge merger is past its big legal hurdles, there is still work to do. The trio of T-Mobile, Sprint, and Dish must now act on its previous promises.

Both T-Mobile and Sprint will need to determine the final terms of the merger. Due to the declining health of the latter, this could prove trickier than expected. T-Mobile may want to renegotiate the price of the deal, potentially delaying the process. Yet, it is expected that both parties want to move forward as efficiently as possible.

Meanwhile, Sprint will need to sell its Boost Mobile assets to Dish. Interestingly, the deal will give Boost access to T-Mobile’s network for seven years while Dish is able to flesh out its own 5G coverage.

Finally, the merger could face legal threats once again. Several state attorneys general are reportedly discussing an appeal of the ruling. Should that occur, the deal may be tied up in legal red tape. Hopefully, for the sake of everyone, an appeal won’t be submitted.

Regardless, it appears that T-Mobile and Sprint are now destined to become one. In the coming years, it will be interesting to see how the merger plays out for consumers in the United States.

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