A U.S. District Court Judge Feb. 11 approved the $26 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint — paving the way for an empowered telecommunications partnership that includes Dish Network and is aimed at competing against AT&T and Verizon.
The deal, which was approved by the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission, still requires a formal greenlight from the California Public Utilities Commission.
U.S. Judge Victor Marrero, in his ruling, denied claims by several State Attorney Generals that the merger of the No. 3 and No. 4 wireless carriers would stifle competition and raise consumer rates, among other issues.
In addition, the Marrero dismissed concerns Dish Network wouldn’t be able to enter the market successfully as a wireless carrier. As part of the Sprint, T-Mobile deal, Dish agreed to acquire Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile and other prepaid phone businesses for $5 billion.
Dish, which operates a satellite TV distribution business, has been looking to diversify its business, including launching online TV platform Sling TV.
“The resulting stalemate leaves the court lacking sufficiently impartial and objective ground on which to rely in basing a sound forecast of the likely competitive effects of a merger,” Marrero wrote in support of the deal.
As part of the transaction, Sprint and T-Mobile said they would deploy a 5G nationwide network within three years of closing the deal.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has opposed the merger, said the deal thwarts consumer rights and fair pricing.
“We’ll stand on the side of competition over megamergers, every time,” Becerra said. “And our coalition is prepared to fight as long as necessary to protect innovation and competitive costs.”