Yesterday T-Mobile and Sprint announced that their merger was complete and it looked like that would be the end of a saga that had stretched on for two years. Now it looks like things may not be over quite yet.
The California Public Utilities Commission has issued a statement that T-Mobile and Sprint cannot begin merging their California operations until the CPUC has approved the deal (via Light Reading). The CPUC is the last of 19 state public utilities commissions that must approve of the merger, and this is the final hurdle that T-Mobile and Sprint's deal must clear.
The CPUC has actually submitted a proposal to approve the T-Mobile-Sprint merger with conditions, but the agency won't vote on that proposal until April 16th.
We issued an order today that makes clear that @Sprint and @TMobile cannot begin the merger of their California operations until after the CPUC issues a final decision on the pending application, scheduled for the April 16 Voting Meeting. https://t.co/vNQGkd8n3a pic.twitter.com/SgoO93Ntnq
— California PUC (@californiapuc) April 2, 2020
T-Mobile hasn't yet officially responded to the CPUC's claim. However, new T-Mo CEO Mike Sievert sent a letter CPUC Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen earlier this week that says that T-Mobile planned to go ahead without the CPUC's approval. That letter was shared by Tellus Venture Associates’ Steve Blum.
In that letter, Sievert explains that the merger needs to close on April 1st due to the uncertainty of the financial markets because of the coronavirus and T-Mobile's need for financing for the merger. Sievert also says that closing the merger will give certainty to both customers and employees of T-Mo and Sprint. And finally, Sievert says that T-Mobile believes the CPUC lacks jurisdiction over the merger and that only the FCC has authority over wireless deals.
Considering that T-Mobile and Sprint have already announced the deal's closing and T-Mo has even already starting deploying mid-band 5G spectrum in Philadelphia, we're definitely interested in seeing how T-Mobile responds to the CPUC.