Ten states have sued to block the planned merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, saying the loss of competition would lead to consumers paying more for phone service.
The lawsuits were brought by 10 Democratic state attorneys general, including New York’s Letitia James and California’s Xavier Becerra, the New York Times reports. While the two cell-phone providers say the tie-up is necessary to help them deploy 5G service and compete with larger rivals AT&T and Verizon, the states argue the merger would cost consumers at least $4.5 billion per year.
“The T-Mobile and Sprint merger would not only cause irreparable harm to mobile subscribers nationwide by cutting access to affordable, reliable wireless service for millions of Americans, but would particularly affect lower-income and minority communities here in New York and in urban areas across the country,” James said in a statement. “That’s why we are going to court to stop this merger and protect our consumers, because this is exactly the sort of consumer-harming, job-killing mega-merger our antitrust laws were designed to prevent.”
The companies didn’t immediately respond to inquiries from Fast Company.
The states also warned that retail workers and independent cell-phone stores could suffer under the deal, and they argued that competition between an independent Sprint and T-Mobile could spur an even faster rollout of 5G tech.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has signaled he approves of the merger, and it’s widely assumed that the FCC’s Republican majority will sign off on the planned combination. Whether the U.S. Justice Department will do so is still unclear, and it’s possible that the companies may agree to shed some services, such as Sprint’s Boost Mobile prepaid wireless brand.
Reuters reported last month on rumors that Amazon has considered making an offer for Boost.