Pennsylvania has joined the list of states whose attorneys generals have joined a suit to try and block the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, which would combine the number three and four wireless carriers.
That merger horse is close to being out of the barn already given that Justice has already agreed to the deal with conditions and the FCC has circulated an order approving the deal that has the support of the three Republican votes it needs to pass and is expected to be approved as soon as the two Democrats have been given the customary time to vote--after which it is deemed granted with the majority of three Republican votes.
Related: Texas Joins T-Mobile-Sprint Suit
The government says that the combo will create a stronger number three competitor to Verizon and AT&T, and the condition that spinning off pre-paid wireless operator Boost Mobile to Dish will seed a fourth facilities-based carrier. The AGs argue that it will instead reduce competition with no guarantee that Sprint will ever morph into a new "uncarrier."
“Pennsylvania’s addition to our lawsuit adds to the states’ momentum against this megamerger that continues to be bad for consumers, bad for workers, and bad for innovation,” said Attorney General Letitia James of New York, one of the lead states on the suit.
"The merger between T-Mobile and Sprint would severely undermine competition in the telecommunications sector, which would hurt Pennsylvanian consumers by driving up prices, limiting coverage, and diminishing quality," said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro of his state's addition to the suit.
A total of 18 AGs are on the suit. The others are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.
A New York district court last month granted the AGs' request for more time for discovery in the case and to incorporate DOJ's settlement, so agreed to delay the start of the trial from Oct. 7 to Dec. 9. At the time, they said other states might be joining.
T-Mobile and Sprint have agreed not to close the deal until six days after a court decision, so the deal, if it survives that court gauntlet, won't close until at least early 2020.
The smarter way to stay on top of the multichannel video marketplace. Sign up below.
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.