One of the pressing concerns about the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint is that it would shrink the market of major US wireless carriers from four to three. But according to a report from Bloomberg tonight, the Ministry of Justice could push for a way to prevent that: apparently, the DoJ wants T-Mobile and Sprint to "lay the foundations" for an entirely new airline that emerges as a condition for any possible approval of their merger.
Because of its sounds, this would be a discarded mobile provider with its own network that is assembled from assets and spectrum that currently belong to T-Mobile and Sprint. Bloomberg does not state how receptive the two carriers are to this idea, nor does it describe how everything would come true. But even conceptually, this solution seems to contradict one of the key arguments that T-Mobile and Sprint have made before coming together: they say that joining forces will create a much larger, more formidable rival for Verizon Wireless and AT & T will drive prizes for consumers.
Giving away enough spectrum and network resources to create a new national airline would certainly result in a weaker "New T-Mobile" than the two companies had originally hoped. T-Mobile and Sprint have claimed that their merger would lead to an ambitious and extensive deployment of 5G technology in the United States in the coming years. Earlier this month, both parties agreed on what they claim to be "enforceable" deadlines for 5G expansion, which was enough for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to say he would vote for the deal. But critics say that the promise of T-Mobile and Sprint to cover 97 percent of the US with 5G within three years (and fill 99 percent of Americans in six years) is meaningless and difficult to measure accurately.
The conditions that T-Mobile and Sprint achieved to receive the FCC's blessing were apparently not sufficient to manipulate the antitrust chief of the Ministry of Justice, Makan Delrahim, according to Bloomberg report. It is still said that he is worried about reducing the number of participants, which led to the idea of, well, just making another courier so that the US will still be left with four if the deal eventually thumb up. Bloomberg notes that the talks between the airlines and DoJ have been "productive", with both T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure on Wednesday outside the Department of Justice.