T-Mobile closed its takeover of Sprint after a nearly two-year battle with federal and state authorities. The merger, worth about $31.8 billion based on T-Mobile’s closing stock price March 31, marks the end for Sprint as a company and a brand. The once-thriving network operator spent most of the past decade losing customers after a string of engineering and marketing missteps gave the upper hand to rivals, T-Mobile chief among them. The combination turns the US’ third and fourth-largest wireless carriers into a far more substantial third place competitor to Verizon and AT&T.
Apparently, the Federal Communications Commission is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in fines from the country’s top cellphone carriers after officials found the companies failed to safeguard information about customers’ real-time locations. The FCC informed AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon of pending notices of apparent liability. Such notices aren’t final, and the companies can still argue they aren’t liable or should pay less. It would ultimately fall on the Justice Department to collect any penalties.
Sprint and T-Mobile have agreed on new terms for their merger, as the wireless carriers race to close the deal. The parties will improve the exchange ratio in the all-stock deal for T-Mobile’s parent, Deutsche Telekom AG. Originally, 9.75 Sprint shares were to be exchanged for each T-Mobile share. Under the revised deal, SoftBank Group, which owns more than 80% of Sprint’s common stock, will exchange the equivalent of 11 of its shares for each T-Mobile share.
Seeking to blunt the dominance by China’s Huawei, the White House is working with US technology companies to create advanced software for next-generation 5G telecommunications networks. The plan would build on efforts by some US telecom and technology companies to agree on common engineering standards that would allow 5G software developers to run code atop machines that come from nearly any hardware manufacturer. That would reduce, if not eliminate, reliance on Huawei equipment. Microsoft, Dell, and AT&T are part of the effort, White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow said.
The Federal Communications Commission’s nearly decade-old program, Measuring Broadband America, is the US government’s gauge of whether home internet-service providers are holding up their end of the bargain when they promise users certain speeds. Companies wield tremendous influence over the study and often employ tactics to boost their scores, according to interviews with more than two dozen industry executives, engineers and government officials.
US District Judge Victor Marrero told lawyers fighting over T-Mobile’s more than $26 billion bid for Sprint to skip their customary opening arguments so they could start questioning witnesses, a sign he is seeking a speedy trial. And he asked both sides to trim their lists of witnesses to avoid beating him “over the head” with testimony. The bench trial is scheduled to carry into Christmas week but could last longer. The states’ first witness, Sprint marketing chief Roger Solé, testified to the company’s efforts to lure subscribers away from rivals, including T-Mobile.
As America races to deploy next-generation wireless technology, several arms of the government are at odds over how to allocate space on the radio-frequency spectrum for 5G. The Federal Communications Commission, which sets policy for spectrum licenses, has openly fought with the Commerce Department, which houses agencies that use spectrum for weather satellites that are crucial to predicting hurricanes. The departments of Transportation, Energy and Education have also objected to various plans to open up airwaves for faster networks.
The four major broadcast networks have filed a suit in federal court to shut down Locast, a nonprofit streaming service funded in part by AT&T and founded by a Dish Network lobbyist that offers their feeds to subscribers for no charge. CBS, Disney's ABC, Comcast’s NBCUniversal, and Fox argue that Locast is retransmitting the signals of their local TV stations without permission, in violation of copyright law.
Charlie Ergen has long tried to muscle his way into the US wireless business. When his rivals had no other choice, the billionaire behind Dish Network finally got his way. John Legere, the chief executive of T-Mobile US, called Ergen in late May after it became clear T-Mobile’s proposed takeover of Sprint was in trouble. Ergen had been the most outspoken corporate critic of the proposed $26 billion deal—a merger that would leave the US with three giant cellular companies.