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Table of Contents - February 14, 2020

Judge OKs T-Mobile–Sprint Merger, Rejecting State AGs’ Arguments On Harm to Wireless Competition

A federal judge in New York on Feb. 11 cleared the way for T-Mobile US, Inc., to acquire Sprint Corp., rejecting the arguments of states that the deal would hurt competition in the wireless market and consumers. State attorneys general leading the litigation criticized the decision and one said they would consider an appeal, although some suggest that an appeal would be unlikely.

“Having been tasked with predicting the future state of the national and local RMWTS (retail mobile wireless telecommunications services) Markets both with and without the merger, and relying on both the evidence at trial and the various judicial tools available, the Court concludes that the Proposed Merger is not reasonably likely to substantially lessen competition in the RMWTS Markets,” Judge Victor Marrero of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York wrote in a 173-page opinion in State of New York et al. v. Deutsche Telekom AG et al. (case 19-cv-05434). “Despite the strength of Plaintiff States’ prima facie case, which might well suffice to warrant injunction of mergers in more traditional industries, a variety of considerations raised at trial have persuaded the Court that a presumption of anticompetitive effects would be misleading in this particularly dynamic and rapidly changing industry. T-Mobile has redefined itself over the past decade as a maverick that has spurred the two largest players in its industry to make numerous pro-consumer changes. The Proposed Merger would allow the merged company to continue T-Mobile’s undeniably successful business strategy for the foreseeable future.”

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Judges Consider Appeals to FCC Small Cell, Pole Attachment Orders

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco) on Feb. 10 delved into numerous issues being raised by municipal interests and utilities in legal challenges to orders adopted by the FCC in 2018 to streamline the deployment of wired and wireless infrastructure.

In a third report and order and declaratory ruling in WC docket 17-84 and WT docket 17-79 adopted in August 2018, the FCC approved a one-touch make-ready (OTMR) policy for attaching telecom and cable facilities to utility poles in the states that don’t regulate attachments themselves, and ruled that “blanket” state and local moratoria on telecom services and facilities deployment are barred by section 253(a) of the 1996 Telecommunications Act (TR, Aug. 17, 2018).

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