Just in case it wasn't already abundantly clear how the DOJ
and FCC felt
about the $26.5 billion mega deal
aiming to combine T-Mobile and Sprint's resources and subscriber numbers, the two government agencies made an official plea
to a federal judge presiding over a highly publicized trial
near the end of said New York lawsuit a few weeks back.
In a late Wednesday court filing in Manhattan
, lawyers for New York and California highlighted the "inconsistent" behavior of the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice, which had long opposed the "consolidation" of the US wireless industry before seemingly green-lighting this particular merger with "only a cursory examination of the approval conditions."
It's worth pointing out that the NY and California state AGs are essentially leading the litigation, having an additional 11 states and the District of Columbia in their corner as they argue competition would be weakened and prices potentially increased
as a consequence of the merger going through.
That number may not sound impressive enough to take on the entire Trump administration and the deep-pocketed execs of T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom, but as further emphasized in the January 8 filing, the plaintiff states are home to nearly a third of the national rural population, which nullifies the federal government's argument that possible rural benefits stemming from the merger were not considered when the legal wheels were put in motion
The battle is far from over
It's still truly anybody's guess if the two carriers will be forced to stay separate or not
Separately, the states reminded the court about several other core arguments against the deal, calling it "presumptively illegal" under antitrust law as it would give birth to a "New T-Mobile" carrier with a whopping 34 percent market share by revenue. Last but not least, Dish
is once again deemed too inexperienced to take Sprint's place and provide real competition for the "big three" club expected to completely dominate the market.
Of course, T-Mo and Sprint are not taking these attacks lying down in preparation of a crucial verdict for the financial stability of both entities, calling the merger the only "realistic way" to "break the vicious cycle of poor network quality leading to subscriber losses and reduced network investment, leading to even worse network quality." In other words, the theory is both wireless service providers would be negatively impacted by a blocking of the merger in terms of network quality while also potentially needing to hike their prices
Under an even bleaker but not altogether implausible scenario, Sprint could be forced to "retreat from nationwide service" without a cash injection from T-Mobile, which would obviously be far worse for the industry than giving Dish a chance to become a major player