NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge has cleared a major path to T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion takeover of Sprint, as he rejected claims by more than a dozen states that the deal would mean less competition and higher phone bills.
Though the deal still needs a few more approvals, T-Mobile expects to close it as early as April 1.
Once that happens, the number of major U.S. wireless companies would shrink from four to three. T-Mobile says the deal would benefit consumers as it becomes a fiercer competitor to the larger Verizon and AT&T. The deal would also create a new, but smaller competitor as satellite TV company Dish pledges to build a next-generation, 5G cellular network.
The judge also agreed with the companies that Sprint was “at best struggling to even tread water” and would not last as a national wireless competitor. He also said that he is persuaded that the U.S. Justice Department’s side deal with Dish, which sets up the satellite TV provider as a new wireless company, would reduce the threat to competition.