T-Mobile Reaches Divestiture Deal With Dish in Hopes of Gaining Approval for Sprint Merger

T-Mobile has reached a divestiture deal with Dish Network that perhaps brings it one step closer to earning government approval for its planned merger with Sprint, reports CNBC.

Dish Network and T-Mobile had been discussing a deal for Sprint's Boost Mobile brand and some wireless spectrum to ease antitrust concerns over the merger.


Though the two companies have much of the divestiture deal in place, sources that spoke to CNBC said that there are still issues that the Justice Department is "actively focused on" before it would allow a deal.

The government continues to be concerned that the agreement between Dish and T-Mobile isn't enough to make sure that Dish would provide meaningful competition in the U.S. cellular market.

The DoJ wants Sprint and T-Mobile to ensure that there continues to be a fourth major carrier in the United States following their merger. The combination of Sprint and T-Mobile, which would be called T-Mobile and would be led by John Legere, would leave the U.S. with three major carriers: T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon.

T-Mobile wants to limit Dish's spectrum capacity to 12.5 percent, while T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom wants to limit any strategic Dish investor to five percent, restrictions the DoJ may not be happy with.

Sprint and T-Mobile first announced a merger agreement in April 2018, but the completion of the deal continues to require government approval. As of May, U.S. regulators were said to be "leaning against" approving the merger unless some of T-Mobile and Sprint's assets were sold off, and T-Mobile and Sprint have been working toward that goal.


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AT&T Named 2019’s Fastest U.S. Mobile Network in Annual PCMag Carrier Showdown

AT&T is the fastest mobile network in the United States according to PCMag's latest annual mobile network comparison, which was released this morning.

For the test, PCMag employees drove through 30 cities and 25 states across the U.S. and ran more than 60,000 mobile speed tests to determine the speediest mobile network. The tests were conducted using Samsung Galaxy S10 devices on networks from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint.


This year, AT&T edged out Verizon, the winner for the past five years, thanks to AT&T's focus on improving its LTE network in preparation for 5G technology. While all four networks improved overall on both speed and reliability compared to last year, AT&T improved a bit more than the others.


AT&T won or tied for first place in 15 of the 30 cities tested, and it tied or came out on top in all rural regions. AT&T was on top overall in the northwest, southwest, north central, and northeast, while Verizon won in the south central region and T-Mobile came out ahead in the southeast.


AT&T has been making improvements to its 4G network and has been labeling those 4G enhancements as "5GE," but really it's the same 4G LTE technology offered by other wireless companies as well. Still, these efforts to improve the 4G network ahead of 5G have led to overall speed boosts for AT&T customers.

The full results of PCMag's 2019 mobile carrier speed testing can be found over on the PCMag website.


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Dish Network Nearing Deal for Boost Mobile as T-Mobile and Sprint Unload Assets for Merger Approval

Dish Network is close to securing a deal to pay $6 billion for Sprint's Boost Mobile brand and wireless spectrum, reports Bloomberg.

Sprint is selling Boost Mobile in an effort to unload assets to gain regulatory approval for its upcoming merger with T-Mobile. The two companies have been aiming to sell Boost Mobile to appease U.S. regulators who believe the merger raises antitrust concerns.


The United States Justice Department wants Sprint and T-Mobile to ensure there continues to be a fourth major carrier in the country as the combined T-Mobile and Sprint company would leave just AT&T and Verizon as the other major carriers.

Sprint and T-Mobile's combined company, set to be called T-Mobile and led by John Legere, would have close to 100 million customers, putting it second only to Verizon.

Sprint and T-Mobile first announced a merger agreement in April 2018, but the completion of the deal requires government approval. As of May, U.S. regulators were said to be "leaning against" approving the merger unless some of T-Mobile and Sprint's assets were sold off.

Dish may be planning to announce a deal as soon as this week, according to sources who spoke to Bloomberg. The terms of the deal have not yet been finalized and it could still fall through, however.


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Sprint Launches Mobile 5G Network in Four U.S. Cities

Sprint today announced the initial launch of its mobile 5G network, bringing 5G connectivity to Sprint customers in areas of Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Kansas City.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Sprint expects to expand 5G availability to areas of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington D.C.

At the foundation of Sprint 5G is Massive MIMO, a breakthrough technology that dramatically improves network capacity. Sprint is using 64T64R (64 transmitters 64 receivers) 5G Massive MIMO radios from Ericsson in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Kansas City. These radios support split-mode, enabling Sprint to simultaneously deliver LTE Advanced and 5G NR service. Sprint's 5G Massive MIMO radios run on its 2.5 GHz mid-band spectrum, and they are deployed on Sprint's existing 4G cell sites, providing a nearly identical footprint for both 2.5 GHz LTE and 5G NR coverage.
Early 5G networks are limited in scope and are available in small areas in the above listed cities, with residents of those areas able to check out the Sprint press release for specific data on where 5G will be available.

The type of 5G network that Sprint is rolling out uses millimeter wave spectrum, which offers blazing fast data transfer speeds but is sensitive to interference and limited in range, making it best suited to use in urban areas because it can't cover wide swathes of land.

In rural and suburban areas, U.S. carriers, including Sprint, will roll out 5G networks on mid-bands and low-bands, aka sub-6GHz 5G. T-Mobile, the company Sprint is hoping to merge with, is focusing heavily on this more widespread connectivity.

Non mmWave 5G technology won't be as fast as the speeds possible with mmWave, but it will bring improvements over current 4G LTE networks. Sprint says its mmWave 5G technology is 10 times faster than LTE.

Sprint is, in the future, aiming to expand its 5G network through its merger with T-Mobile, though there are concerns that it won't be approved. A recent report suggests the United States Justice Department wants to require T-Mobile and Sprint to "lay the groundwork" for a new wireless carrier (to create a fourth competitor) as a condition for the government allowing the merger to proceed.

Connecting to a 5G network requires a smartphone that supports 5G, and there are few on the market at the current time. Options include the LG ThinQ 5G and the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.

There are no iPhones that are able to connect to 5G networks at the current time, and Apple is not expected to release a 5G device until 2020. Rumors suggest 2020 iPhones will feature 5G chips from Qualcomm, following the resolution of the legal woes between Qualcomm and Apple along with Intel's decision to drop out of the 5G chip market.


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U.S. Justice Department ‘Leaning Against’ Approving T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

The United States Justice Department is "leaning against" approving the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, reports Bloomberg.

The merger might not be approved because the two companies "don't go far enough" to resolve antitrust concerns raised by the U.S. government.


Bloomberg's report comes shortly after United States Federal Communications Chairman Ajit Pai said that he would recommend approval of the merger between Sprint and T-Mobile.

T-Mobile and Sprint have implemented changes to their merger to allay concerns, including the sale of Boost Mobile, a three-year buildout of a 5G network, and a pledge not to raise prices while the network is being built, but these steps may not be enough to earn approval.

Back in April, there were reports suggesting the DoJ had told Sprint and T-Mobile that the merger would not be approved as it was originally structured, which prompted the plans to sell Boost Mobile.

Sprint and T-Mobile first announced a merger agreement in April 2018, but the completion of the merger requires the government to approve the deal. A merger between Sprint and T-Mobile would combine two of the four major carriers in the U.S., and it would use the T-Mobile name.

The two companies would have close to 100 million customers, putting it second only to Verizon. The U.S. DoJ is concerned the deal would be a major threat to competition.

Sprint and T-Mobile planned to have the merger completed no later than the first half of 2019, but that date was pushed back to late July earlier this year.


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Proposed T-Mobile and Sprint Merger Gains Support From FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

United States Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said this week that he would recommend approval of the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint (via Bloomberg). The news comes after T-Mobile and Sprint announced changes to their $26.5 billion merger agreement, including the sale of the prepaid brand Boost Mobile, a three-year buildout of their 5G network, and a pledge not to raise prices while the network is being built.


Under the new plan, the companies will sell off Sprint's Boost Mobile brand, but keep Virgin Mobile and T-Mobile's Metro brand. If Sprint and T-Mobile had kept all three, they would have owned the largest chunk of the prepaid cellular market in the United States, totaling about 42 percent of the market.
“Two of the FCC’s top priorities are closing the digital divide in rural America and advancing United States leadership in 5G, the next generation of wireless connectivity,” Pai said in a statement Monday. “The commitments made today by T-Mobile and Sprint would substantially advance each of these critical objectives.”
If completed, the new combined company would ditch the Sprint name and be called T-Mobile, and current T-Mobile CEO John Legere would serve as the Chief Executive Officer. Sprint and T-Mobile have said the new company will be a "force for positive change" in the U.S. wireless, video, and broadband industries, supercharging T-Mobile's Un-carrier strategy and allowing it to "lead in the 5G era."

Although Pai's approval is a big step, the merger still needs to be approved by the full FCC board and the Department of Justice. In April, Sprint and T-Mobile announced a deadline extension for the merger to July 29, 2019.


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FCC Questions U.S. Carriers on Phone Location Data Sales Practices

The United States Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday sent out letters to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint questioning the carriers about their data selling practices, reports Motherboard.

The carriers have been found selling real-time location information from customer devices to data aggregators, leading the location data to end up in the hands of private investigators, bounty hunters, law enforcement, credit companies, and more.


Companies like LocationSmart and Zumigo obtained location information from U.S.-based cellular carriers and passed that data on to dozens of other companies, putting real-time customer location information in the hands of those who should not have it.

After coming under scrutiny for their location sharing practices, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, pledged to stop doing so, but many had not actually stopped entirely as of January.

The FCC is now demanding answers from the four carriers. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel asked the heads of each company to provide details on whether the data aggregators were allowed to save phone location data and what steps carriers are going to take to make sure shared data has been deleted. From the letter to AT&T:
Real-time location information is sensitive data deserving the highest level of privacy protection. But it is evident from press reports that this data may have been sold without the explicit consent of consumers and without appropriate safeguards in place.

Accordingly, I appreciate your decision to end these location aggregation services by March of this year. To that end, I kindly request that you provide an update on your efforts and confirm by what date AT&T ended its arrangements to sell the location data of its customers. Please also confirm whether and by what date the company ended arrangements to sell assisted or augmented GPS data.

Finally, the public still has very little detail about how much geolocation data is being saved and stored-including in ways that may be far too accessible to others. Even de-anonymized location data may be combined with other information in ways that could make it personally identifiable again. Accordingly, please explain whether AT&T's agreements permitted aggregators or others to save and store location data they received from your company. If so, please confirm what steps your company is taking to ensure that these companies delete or destroy previously shared data and any derivative data. Alternatively, please explain what steps AT&T is taking to safeguard such data from use or onward sale that is inconsistent with consumers' original content.
Similar letters were also sent to Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, and all four carriers have been asked to provide responses to the FCC by May 15, 2019.


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Sprint and T-Mobile Extend Merger Deadline to June 29

Sprint and T-Mobile have announced an agreement to extend the deadline for their proposed $26 billion merger deal to July 29 (via Reuters).

The extension was revealed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and means that the two carriers now have more time to get the proposed merger approved by both the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice.


The Justice Department's antitrust division has been exploring whether the deal would result in a major threat to competition. Earlier this month, Justice Department staff members reportedly told Sprint and T-Mobile that their planned merger is unlikely to be approved as it is currently structured.

However, in an interview on CNBC, Justice Department Antitrust Division chief Makan Delrahim said he had not made a decision regarding the T-Mobile and Sprint merger and is waiting for more information from the two companies.
"I have not made up my mind," he told CNBC. "The investigation continues. We've requested some data from the companies that will be forthcoming. We don't have a set number of meetings or a time line."

"If the case is there for us to challenge a transaction or suggest changes, we will do that," he said. The division is reviewing the argument that the deal would allow the combined company to produce a better, faster 5G, the next generation of wireless, he added.
T-Mobile and Sprint first announced plans for a merger in April 2018. If approved, the merger will combine two of the four major wireless carriers in the United States, giving the new company nearly 100 million customers.

With discussions ongoing, Sprint and T-Mobile may be willing to offer concessions that include assets sales to get the government to approve the merger plans.

However, other challenges await the two carriers, with multiple state attorneys prepared to launch lawsuits if the Justice Department doesn't end up challenging the merger, according to sources that spoke to The Wall Street Journal.


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Sprint and T-Mobile Extend Merger Deadline to July 29

Sprint and T-Mobile have announced an agreement to extend the deadline for their proposed $26 billion merger deal to July 29 (via Reuters).

The extension was revealed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and means that the two carriers now have more time to get the proposed merger approved by both the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice.


The Justice Department's antitrust division has been exploring whether the deal would result in a major threat to competition. Earlier this month, Justice Department staff members reportedly told Sprint and T-Mobile that their planned merger is unlikely to be approved as it is currently structured.

However, in an interview on CNBC, Justice Department Antitrust Division chief Makan Delrahim said he had not made a decision regarding the T-Mobile and Sprint merger and is waiting for more information from the two companies.
"I have not made up my mind," he told CNBC. "The investigation continues. We've requested some data from the companies that will be forthcoming. We don't have a set number of meetings or a time line."

"If the case is there for us to challenge a transaction or suggest changes, we will do that," he said. The division is reviewing the argument that the deal would allow the combined company to produce a better, faster 5G, the next generation of wireless, he added.
T-Mobile and Sprint first announced plans for a merger in April 2018. If approved, the merger will combine two of the four major wireless carriers in the United States, giving the new company nearly 100 million customers.

With discussions ongoing, Sprint and T-Mobile may be willing to offer concessions that include assets sales to get the government to approve the merger plans.

However, other challenges await the two carriers, with multiple state attorneys prepared to launch lawsuits if the Justice Department doesn't end up challenging the merger, according to sources that spoke to The Wall Street Journal.


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AT&T and Sprint Settle Lawsuit Over Misleading ‘5GE’ Label for AT&T’s 4G Network

AT&T and Sprint have settled a lawsuit that Sprint levied against AT&T for its misleading "5G Evolution" or "5GE" branding that AT&T uses for its upgraded 4G LTE network.

A spokesperson for AT&T today told Law360 that the matter has been "amicably settled." Details on the terms of the settlement have not been shared, but AT&T is planning to continue to use its 5GE branding.


AT&T earlier this year began displaying a 5GE icon on some iPhone and Android smartphones. 5GE is AT&T's misleading name for an enhanced 4G LTE network and is not actual 5G connectivity, which incensed Sprint.

After AT&T rolled out the 5GE terminology, Sprint filed a lawsuit in federal court against AT&T in an attempt to prevent AT&T from using 5GE labeling. Sprint accused AT&T of damaging the consumer reputation and understanding of true 5G and potentially hurting Sprint's planned 5G rollout this summer.

Sprint also took out a full page ad in The New York Times to call AT&T out for the misleading labeling, calling 5GE "fake 5G." From Sprint's ad:
While Sprint is working hard to deliver mobile 5G and the first 5G smartphone in the U.S., AT&T is hard at work trying to convince you that they already won the race to 5G with something they call "5G Evolution." That is simply untrue.

Don't be fooled. 5G Evolution isn't new or true 5G. It is fake 5G.

They would love for you to believe they are different ... better. The truth is AT&T is simply offering customers a nationwide 4G LTE network just like Sprint and all the other major wireless carriers. It's not 5G.
AT&T uses 5GE for its 4G LTE networks that offer features like three-way carrier aggregation, 256 QAM, and 4x4 MIMO to provide faster connection speeds to consumers. These features are in no way limited to AT&T and are offered by other carriers, but no other carrier is using fake 5G branding.

Unsurprisingly, speed tests have confirmed that AT&T's 5GE service is no faster than LTE from Verizon and T-Mobile.

AT&T has defended its 5GE branding by calling 5G Evolution "first step on the road to 5G" and by claiming that customers "love" the 5GE branding because they "want and deserve to know" when "better speeds" are available.
"We understand why our competitors don't like what we are doing, but our customers love it. We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G. 5G Evolution and the 5GE indicator simply let customers know when their device is in an area where speeds up to twice as fast as standard LTE are available. That's what 5G Evolution is, and we are delighted to deliver it to our customers.
Smartphones that support true 5G connectivity are only now just beginning to trickle out, and Apple isn't expected to launch one until 2020. No existing iPhone will be able to connect to a 5G network because it requires new hardware.

5G networks from the four major carriers in the United States are going to be available starting in 2019, but expanded coverage and full rollouts will take some time.


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