Press Release

Attorney General Ellison: T-Mobile/Sprint mega-merger would still hurt Minnesotans’ ability to afford their lives

Speculative deal with DISH Network does not resolve concerns about impacts on consumers, workers, and communities

July 26, 2019 (SAINT PAUL) — With the news today that the United States Department of Justice has approved in principle the proposed mega-merger between telecommunications giants T-Mobile and Sprint, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said he remains concerned that the merger will hurt Minnesotans. Ellison is one of 14 attorneys general from across the country who have filed suit to block the merger.

The U.S. DOJ indicated earlier today that it would approve the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint based on promises the two companies made, which include an agreement to divest Sprint’s prepaid subscription service and a slice of its wireless spectrum to satellite TV operator DISH. Though DISH has never owned any kind of mobile wireless business and has no experience building or operating a nationwide mobile wireless network, both T-Mobile and Sprint claim that this deal will create a fourth national network operator that will preserve a competitive market for consumers.

“I’m still very concerned that this mega-merger would hurt Minnesotans’ ability to afford their lives,” Attorney General Ellison said. “Less competition in the wireless industry will mean higher prices, fewer jobs, and lower-quality service. This merger would especially hurt lower-income families, communities of color, and rural communities in Minnesota. Though my office is still fully reviewing this deal, we do not believe that Sprint selling off a small portion of its business to DISH Network will resolve the merger’s major problems.” 

T-Mobile US Inc. currently has close to 80 million subscribers, and is a majority-owned subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG. Sprint Corp. currently has close to 55 million subscribers, and is a majority-owned subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp.

Minnesota and the 13 other states in the coalition suing to block the mega-merger continue to have serious concerns with it, including whether the deal with DISH would meaningfully address the loss of competition that would result from it. Among those concerns are that:

  1. DISH has never shown any inclination or ability to build a nationwide mobile network on its own and has repeatedly broken assurances to the Federal Communications Commission about deployment of its spectrum.
  2. DISH does not have the network to operate as an independent competitor like Sprint does today. Rather, it would instead remain reliant on the T-Mobile network for the foreseeable future.
  3. T-Mobile and Sprint are asking Americans to trust that this new mega-corporation will act directly against its own economic interests by helping transform DISH into an independent competitor that rivals this new company.

The states remain committed to protecting competition in the marketplace and lower prices for consumers.

In addition to Minnesota, New York, and California, the plaintiff states suing to block the T-Mobile/Sprint merger currently include Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Virginia, and Wisconsin.