Top Democrat on antitrust committee expresses 'concerns' over T-Mobile, Sprint merger

Joanna Estrada
March 15, 2019

House Democrats grilled T-Mobile CEO John Legere on Tuesday for staying at the Trump International Hotel while his company seeks government approval for a merger with Sprint. The hotel stay had been previously reported. "I'm always concerned when there is evidence or a suggestion that someone is trying to curry favor with the administration by staying at a Trump Hotel - I think that's a concern".

Sprint, the U.S. subsidiary of Japan's Softbank Group, and T-Mobile are waiting for USA regulators to approve the 26 billion dollar deal.

The top Democrat on a House subcommittee, tasked with oversight of antitrust law, said he's concerned with a broad range of implications tied to the multi-billion-dollar merger deal between T-Mobile and Sprint.

Last week, in a blockbuster story, the Washington Post revealed that T-Mobile spent $195,000 on at least 38 nights' worth of stays at President Trump's hotel in Washington, D.C., during the time that federal agencies were deciding whether to approve the telecom giant's $26 billion merger with Sprint.

The executive chairman of Sprint, Marcelo Claure, said, "Sprint can not do this alone and T-Mobile can not do it either".

"You see how that looks?"

Democrat Representative Tony Cárdenas who ran a letter campaign seeking to know the companies' commitment to Lifeline expressed happiness with T-Mobile's pledge. "It appears that you were trying to influence the merger", she told Legere.

Legere said on Twitter on Sunday that on this trip to Washington he stayed at a different hotel.

On Tuesday, Jayapal said the issue of the hotel stays was significant because of allegations that Trump may have interfered in the antitrust review of another deal, AT&T's purchase of Time Warner.

"I have said I would never stay in a La Quinta again, and I have stayed at a La Quinta subsequently", joked Florida Republican Matt Gaetz. USA officials have been trying to dissuade allies from using the Chinese technology giant's equipment in their networks over possible spying concerns, and T-Mobile on Tuesday said it did not use the company's gear.

Over the course of the next half a year, T-Mobile and Sprint finally managed to agree on preliminary merger conditions, finally marking a new chapter in their off-and-on-again saga.

T-Mobile and Sprint have been facing pressure from Democrats who raised concerns that the merger will escalate prices and consumers will suffer.

The T-Mobile-Sprint merger is still being reviewed by the FCC and DOJ.

Verizon's seminal FWA service launched late a year ago in the form of 5G Home, which the telecom giant unsurprisingly used as a basis for the claim it's first to commercialize the next generation of mobile networks in the United States. China has made it a priority to win the 5G race.

Some opponents insist that the deal will result in higher prices.

The quantity spent on the Trump Worldwide Resort accounted for 14% of the $1.4 million spent at DC motels by T-Cell throughout that interval, the company has said. "He owned all the capacity, but he was still a monopolist".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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