Justice Department could approve T-Mobile-Sprint merger this week, report says

After months of delays, it looks like the T-Mobile-Sprint merger could be moving closer toward completion. According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department plans on approving the merger of the two carriers, thanks largely to settlements involving the sale of spectrum, wholesale access, and even a prepaid wireless business with 9 million subscribers to Dish.

Of course, approval from the Justice Department is only one more step in getting the merger to actually happen. Thanks to a lawsuit filed by 13 states, T-Mobile and Sprint will have to defend the merger in court. The new, altered merger plan means that a trial set for October 7 will likely be delayed.

“The companies have spent weeks negotiating with antitrust enforcers and each other over the sale of assets to Dish to satisfy concerns that the more than $26 billion merger of the No. 3 and No. 4 wireless carriers by subscribers would hurt competition,” said the report from the Wall Street Journal.

Dish itself is poised to have a lot to offer if it ever launches its own wireless network. The company is the second-largest satellite TV provider, and has been buying up spectrum for some years now, despite the fact that it still hasn’t launched a wireless network for itself. Given the recent sales from T-Mobile and Sprint to Dish, it seems like Dish could be preparing to finally launch a network of its own. Dish reportedly is set to pay $5 billion for the assets from T-Mobile and Sprint.

According to the report, the proposed settlement would also require T-Mobile and Dish to both support eSIM technology, which makes it easier for customers to quickly switch carriers if they want to.

So what now? Well, the merger could be announced as soon as this week, but timing still remains uncertain according to the report. If T-Mobile and Sprint were to merge, it would create a third major wireless carrier in the U.S., and could pose some competition to the likes of Verizon and AT&T. Currently, Verizon and AT&T are both much larger than T-Mobile and Sprint. Safe to say, it may be some time before the merger actually goes through and the two carriers can go to work on joining forces.

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