The T-Mobile-Sprint merger has been met with some opposition, like those who have concerns about competition and the U.S. wireless market shrinking from four major carriers to three. Now some U.S. lawmakers have other concerns about the deal.
Some members of the U.S. House have drafted a letter to say that the T-Mobile-Sprint merger deal needs a full national security invesatigation. The letter is being passed around to gain signatures, says Bloomberg, before it's sent to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who is heading up a U.S. national security review of the merger.
The letter cites concerns with Sprint and SoftBank — the majority owner of Sprint — and their ties to Huawei. Specifically, SoftBank last year announced a joint effort with Huawei to show off the potential uses of 5G networks and also signed an agreement with Huawei to implement 5G "smart service robots."
The letter also says that Sprint violated a 2013 security agreement with the U.S. as part of its sale to SoftBank that required it to remove Huawei equipment from its network.
"The Sprint, T-Mobile merger would increase telecommunications risks associated with third-party foreign entities, including Huawei, being utilized in the development of U.S. 5G infrastructure," says the letter. "Recognizing that these companies operate as subsidiaries of foreign-owned firms — one of which maintains long-standing close ties with Chinese state-influenced entities — a full and robust national security investigation is required."
Sprint has responded to this report by saying that it's proud of its record of NSA compliance and that the combined T-Mobile-Sprint "will continue to make network security a top prioirity."
The U.S. government has had national security concerns with Huawei in the past, with reports saying that it pressured AT&T and Verizon to cut ties with Huawei when the two carriers were planning to launch the Huawei Mate 10 Pro flagship in the U.S. Sprint doesn't seem too worried about the concerns of these U.S. lawmakers, but considering how we've seen the government act with regard to issues involving Huawei before, Sprint and SoftBank's ties to Huawei could complicate the T-Mobile-Sprint merger.