The FCC voted to approve the T-Mobile-Sprint merger
Today, the FCC formally approved the contested T-Mobile and Sprint merger, The Vergereports. But commissioners are still speaking out. Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks released statements explaining their decisions to vote against the transaction. In her statement, Rosenworcel said: "We've all seen what happens when markets become more concentrated after a merger like this one. In the airline industry, it brought us baggage fees and smaller seats. In the pharmaceutical industry, it led to a handful of drug companies raising the prices of lifesaving medications. There's no reason to think this time will be different.
On a cold and rainy Monday morning in New York, T-Mobile and Sprint headed to court to try and get their merger approved. The hearing marked the first day of a trial between the wireless carrier and a number of state attorneys general led by New York AG Letitia James and California AG Xavier Becerra.
Sprint chief marketing officer Roger Solé was the first to testify after U.S. Judge Victor Marrero announced that he would be skipping opening statements. The trial is set to run until Friday, Dec. 20, or Monday, Dec. 23, depending on the number of hours the two sides need to present their case.
FCC formally approves the T-Mobile-Sprint merger
Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formally approved the T-Mobile-Sprint merger. The decision comes after a drawn-out, and at times contentious, review of T-Mobile's $26.5 billion bid to merge with Sprint. The FCC believes the deal will close the digital divide and advance 5G in the US. T-Mobile and Sprint have committed to deploying 5G service to cover 97 percent of Americans within three years. They've also pledged to provideThe FCC believes the deal will close the digital divide and advance 5G in the US. T-Mobile and Sprint have committed to deploying 5G service to cover 97 percent of Americans within three years.
At issue is whether T-Mobile should be allowed to The deal was announced in 2018 and received approval from the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice earlier this year. The states represent the last hurdle preventing T-Mobile and Sprint from consummating their deal.
In Monday morning's hearing, the law firm representing the states pushed Solé on Sprint's ability to influence the wireless industry by introducing promotions that offered 50% off wireless rates from T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T in 2015 and then with its Unlimited Freedom plan in 2016. The carriers' side countered that Sprint is still shedding customers even after trying those aggressive promotions as Sprint has had a hard time shaking off a reputation of having a poor network.
T-Mobile's 5G network will go live on December 6th
T-Mobile will officially activate its 5G network on December 6th, the carrier announced today during a live stream dedicated to its upcoming merger with Sprint. According to CEO John Legere, 200 million customers will have access to the network on day one, with 5,000 cities and towns covered before the end of 2019. The company plans to market the initiative as "5G for Good," likely in an effort to drum up additional support for its merger with Sprint. That's because the launch is dependent on the merger going through since T-Mobile needs access to Sprint's spectrum to make such a wide initial rollout possible.
Solé also explained that Sprint has a limited path to 5G. While the carrier has the lucrative midband spectrum that T-Mobile covets, it lacks holdings in the higher frequency millimeter-wave that would allow faster speeds and low-band spectrum that would allow it to cover a larger portion of the country.
T-Mobile has announced a host of to win FCC approval. It won the DOJ's blessing after a to have the satellite TV provider step in and buy assets from Sprint to become a new, fourth nationwide wireless carrier to replace Sprint.
While in most mergers, DOJ and FCC approval would be enough to close a deal, 14 attorneys general are opposed to the merger. Led by New York and California, the AGs , arguing that allowing the merger of the nation's current third and fourth-largest wireless carriers would "deprive consumers of the benefits of competition and drive up prices for cellphone services."
T-Mobile teases $15 5G plan and other post-merger initiatives
When, and if, it launches its 5G network on December 6th, T-Mobile will offer a new $15 per month prepaid 5G plan to customers. The plan will include a 2GB per month data allowance, in addition to unlimited talk and text. At $15, the plan is half the price of T-Mobile's current cheapest plan. For $25 per month, customers can upgrade to a plan with 5GB of monthly data. Additionally, T-Mobile says it will add 500MB of data to both plans every year for up to five years.At first glance, the two rate plans seem like a great offer, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
The AGs have also questioned whether Dish can be trusted to become a true fourth carrier, citing how the company has no experience running a wireless company and has routinely failed to deploy the spectrum it has won at recent auctions.
"DISH is a struggling satellite TV firm with no experience running a mobile wireless business – and no current mobile wireless business," California Deputy AG Paula Blizzard said in a remarks delivered this morning. "It will not be a new robust wireless operator that can replace Sprint."
A number of executives from T-Mobile, Sprint and Dish are expected to appear in the coming days including T-Mobile CEO John Legere, president and chief operating officer Mike Sievert and president of technology Neville Ray. Also expected are Sprint chairman Marcelo Claure, current Sprint CEO Michel Combes and Dish co-founder Charlie Ergen.
After T-Mobile unveiled a that it said it would do if the merger was approved -- including providing free service to first responders and free home internet to low-income households -- the company was able to sway a few states into supporting its cause, .
T-Mobile's 5G network goes live ahead of schedule
Last month, T-Mobile promised its 5G network would go live in 5,000 cities and towns on December 6th -- if its merger with Sprint went through. That deal is not yet final, but today, a few days ahead of schedule, T-Mobile says it's launching its nationwide 5G network. The catch is that, for now, T-Mobile is offering 600 MHz "low-band" 5G. The network covers more than one million square miles, including many rural areas, and 200 million people. The "low-band" 5G won't be as fast as the 5G we've seen from carriers like Sprint and Verizon (Engadget's parent company), but it will have better range, so it shouldn't run into problems like not being able to travel through walls
T-Mobile has long argued that it needs Sprint's spectrum to build a truly robust 5G nationwide network. Sprint is the only US carrier to currently offer 5G on what is known as midband spectrum. This frequency that allows for faster data connections than the low-band 5G network , but with significantly more range than the higher frequency millimeter-wave 5G currently favored by Verizon .
The carrier argues that by merging with Sprint it will be able to build out a network that utilizes all three flavors of 5G: low-band, midband and millimeter-wave.
Sprint, meanwhile, has continued to and while it has 5G in nine cities, it has not announced any additional expansion plans. The company's declining health has prompted some analysts to call for T-Mobile to renegotiate the price of its deal.
T-Mobile declined to comment on if it was renegotiating its price with Sprint. The carrier previously has said it now expects to close the deal in "early 2020" with CEO John Legere that the company is "perfectly ready and prepared for" the trial.
"We know their issues and we have answers," Legere said. "And now it's just a matter of which package to put them in."
Sprint is shutting down Virgin Mobile ahead of planned T-Mobile merger .
Sprint is getting ready for its planned T-Mobile merger by axing one of its prepaid brands. The telecom is shutting down Virgin Mobile service and will transfer all customers to Boost Mobile starting the week of February 2nd. You'll keep your phone and number in "most instances," and will move to a "comparable or better" plan at no additional charge. Your mobile broadband device won't carry over, though, and you'll have to change your payment options if you rely on either PayPal or 45/90-day top-ups.When asked, Sprint didn't say when Virgin would shut down completely, or what would happen to Sprint's in-house prepaid customers.