The T-Mobile and Sprint merger was reportedly supposed to be a done deal weeks ago after much of their total spectrum assets were set to be allocated to Dish to spur the creation of another major carrier. But according to The Wall Street Journal, talks have slowed, and it’s unclear when the two parties will come to an agreement.
T-Mobile and Sprint announced their $26 billion merger over a year ago, and the Journal reports that it will once again push past another deadline, July 29th, before closing the deal. This will be the second such extension since the initial announcement that has struggled to receive approval from the Justice Department.
As early as May, all Republican commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission had voiced support for the deal after they came to an arrangement that is supposed to encourage 5G and broadband deployment in rural areas. The Justice Department has yet to reach a conclusion, apparently waiting to see if the carriers can reach an agreement to ensure there isn’t a decrease in competition if they were to merge.
By allocating spectrum assets to another company like Dish, the deal could preserve a viable fourth carrier that could compete against the New T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. Still, that carrier would be operating at a significant disadvantage.
According to the Journal, negotiators have been stuck discussing ownership caps and restrictions that would limit who could later purchase parts of the new Dish network. Dish is pushing back on these limits that T-Mobile’s parent company wants to impose in order to prevent the company from selling off the new spectrum that would be allocated to it.
Even if the Justice Department ends up approving the deal, the merger faces a court challenge from over a dozen state attorneys general claiming that it would hurt consumers. Earlier this week, T-Mobile said the AGs were “dwelling in the past” in a court filing responding to the accusations.