Court Delays Start of T-Mobile-Sprint Suit to December

A New York Southern District Court has delayed the start of the trial in the attorneys general lawsuit challenging the T-Mobile-Sprint deal to Dec. 9 (from Oct. 7), essentially guaranteeing the deal will not close until 2020 unless the suit is settled before that.

That is according to a source familiar with the initial status hearing in the New York court Thursday (Aug. 1).

T-Mobile and Sprint have told the court they will not try to close the deal until six days after a court decision. The FCC has yet to weigh in officially on the merger, though the three-Republican majority have said with the boost spin-off and 5G buildouts and other conditions, they plan to approve it.

Related: T-Mobile-Sprint Critics Pan Dish as Fourth Wireless Competitor

The Justice Department and a handful of state AGs last week settled with the companies, but the remaining AGs are pushing forward with their suit, alleging the DOJ conditions on the deal, 5G buildouts, a spin-off of Boost Mobile to Dish to seed a fourth facilities based mobile wireless company, don't cut it.

The court granted more time for further discovery in the case, but other issues remain that the magistrate judge asked the two sides to hammer out independently if possible.

In other news, Texas has expressed a desire to join the challenge as a co-plaintiff, which bumps up the total of 15 states and 15 AGs.

“This is welcome news having Texas as a partner in our fight to protect consumers and competition," said Xavier Becerra, attorney general of California, the lead plaintiff along with New York. "Our coalition of 15 attorneys general will do everything it can to ensure telecom prices are fair and competitive. In California, our concerns with the merger have been about the harms posed by shrinking market competition. Choice is not real if competition isn’t meaningful, and a marketplace with fewer active competitors drives up prices and thwarts innovation.” 

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.