Texas leaves antitrust suit, supports T-Mobile-Sprint merger


(KXAN/AP) — The coalition of state attorneys general suing to stop the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile has lost another state, Texas, two weeks before trial is scheduled to begin.

Texas said Monday that it has made its own settlement with T-Mobile.

The state attorneys general go to trial Dec. 9, arguing that the T-Mobile-Sprint deal will raise prices and be bad for competition. Mississippi and Colorado left the coalition in October, but 14 states and the District of Columbia remain. The states are suing the company because they claim the deal would eliminate competition and drive up the price for consumers. T-Mobile has claimed the merger would provide better access and faster service, especially in rural areas.

T-Mobile is trying to buy Spring for $26.5 billion. The FCC voted 3-2 to approve the merger.

Texas says T-Mobile promised not to raise wireless prices in the state for five years and that it will build a next-generation 5G network in Texas.

T-Mobile has already promised a national 5G network and to keep prices steady for three years to federal regulators. They have approved the deal.

“This was a case where we stepped across party lines because we felt that what was most important for Texas consumers was that we aligned with New York against this merger until they were willing to come to the table for settlement,” said Communications Director for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Marc Rylander.

The Attorney General’s office announced the state will no longer be part of the suit because T-Mobile agreed to have the same or better plans for the next five years, to expand 5G coverage to rural Texas within the next 6 years, and to offer current Texas employees a similar job with the new company.

“We live in a culture today and in a society where every single person is so dependent upon their technology. We had to make sure that people in the furthest, most remote parts of the state of Texas had just the quality of service and fairness of price as everyone else around the state,” said Rylander.

A major union still has concerns with the merger. Leadership at the Communications Workers of America (CWA) simply doesn’t trust the company will uphold these agreements.

Debbie Goldman from the Communications Workers of America tells KXAN the “remain skeptical of last-minute pledges and unenforceable commitments from T-Mobile – a company that has proven itself untrustworthy and hostile to workers’ rights. The news out of Nevada (another state that settled) and Texas should give little comfort to workers and consumers in either state.”

Monday, the T-Mobile President and CEO celebrated the news on Twitter.

A Japanese company Softbank owns Sprint; Germany’s Deutsche Telekom owns T-Mobile. KXAN reached out to T-Mobile’s Texas-based competitor AT&T for comment, but have not yet heard back.

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