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Democratic Senators Urge Administration To Reject Sprint, T-Mobile Merger

A group of eight Democratic U.S. senators and independent Senator Bernie Sanders urged the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday to reject a proposed $26 billion merger of T-Mobile US Inc and Sprint Corp.

The merger is “likely to raise prices for consumers, harm workers, stifle competition, exacerbate the digital divide, and undermine innovation,” they wrote in separate letters to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Makan Delrahim, the Justice Department’s top antitrust official.

The signatories included potential or confirmed presidential candidates Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Sherrod Brown, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker. Also signing the letters were Senators Richard Blumenthal and Tom Udall.

The companies did not immediately comment. A U.S. House panel is set to hold a hearing on the merger.

The senators noted the four largest wireless carriers including AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc control 98 percent of the market.

“Antitrust regulators around the world have consistently blocked four-to-three mergers in the mobile and telecommunications industry, and those who have allowed such mergers have lived to regret it,” they wrote.

Separately, T-Mobile Chief Executive Officer John Legere defended the merger in written testimony released on Tuesday, ahead of a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel hearing on Wednesday.

He said the company does not “use Huawei or ZTE network equipment in any area of our network” and will “never” use equipment from the Chinese firms in the next-generation high-speed 5G network.

U.S. national security officials have said both ZTE and Huawei raise concerns. The Trump administration is preparing an executive order, that could be released as soon as this month, that would allow the Commerce Department to bar U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by Huawei, ZTE or other companies deemed to pose national security risks.―The New York Times

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