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State Officials, Department of Justice Should Green-Light Sprint-T-Mobile Merger

Yesterday’s filing by ten state attorneys general to block the proposed merger of wireless carriers T-Mobile and Sprint is the latest threat to the innovations American consumers deserve and that the unfettered marketplace is striving to deliver—if only government regulators will stay out of the way.  

The merger would allow the third- and fourth-largest U.S. carriers to combine resources to offer 5G wireless service to 97 percent of America’s population within three years and 99 percent of the population within six years. Currently, only AT&T and Verizon are well positioned to compete in the global race to be first to 5G. The merged company would mean three, instead of two, 5G options for consumers and a leg-up for U.S. standards to become the default in the new technology.

Opponents of the deal fret about consumer prices if the wireless providers are allowed to merge, but the companies have assured the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who recently announced his support for the deal, that they would not raise price for at least three years.

Critics, including New York Attorney General Letitia James, raise concerns about job losses. Job losses are difficult for employees, but they can benefit consumers by providing critical efficiency gains. A firm’s goal is to maximize profits by providing consumers with a valuable good or service at a competitive price, not employing as many people as possible.

The U.S. Department of Justice is still reviewing the merger. Both it and the state attorneys general should follow the Federal Communications Commissions’ lead and bless the deal between T-Mobile and Sprint. Private industry and their shareholders have every incentive to give American consumers what they want: faster, better, cheaper wireless service. Federal and state bureaucrats have too many incentives to play politics, expand their own power, and further their careers with a harmful high-profile antitrust battle.