Colorado has agreed to end its involvement in a multi-state lawsuit seeking to block the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile in exchange for assurances that Dish Network’s new wireless phone service and some 2,000 jobs will be headquartered in the Centennial State.
The Colorado Attorney General’s Office announced the deal on Monday morning. Dish has also promised that Colorado will be one of the first states to get 5G service — particularly in rural areas — as part of the agreement.
Dish announced its foray into wireless phone service in July after federal regulators tossed cold water onto the $26 billion Sprint and T-Mobile merger.
To ease regulators’ concerns, Douglas County-based Dish, known for its satellite TV service, agreed to scoop up Sprint’s 9.3 million prepaid business customers and some wireless spectrum in a deal valued at $5 billion.
But the multi-state lawsuit challenging the merger remained.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser joined the lawsuit to block the Sprint-T-Mobile merger in part because of his concerns over the impacts on Colorado’s prepaid wireless phone customers.
“The state of Colorado joined a multistate lawsuit to block the T-Mobile-Sprint merger because of concerns about how the merger would affect Coloradans,” Chief Deputy Attorney General Natalie Hanlon Leh said in a written statement. “The agreements we are announcing today address those concerns by guaranteeing jobs in Colorado, a statewide buildout of a fast 5G network that will especially benefit rural communities, and low-cost mobile plans. Our announcement today ensures Coloradans will benefit from Dish’s success as a nationwide wireless competitor.”
Dish is expected to become the nation’s fourth facilities-based wireless competitor after the deal is finalized.
The Federal Communications Commission approved the merger last week. The U.S. Justice Department approved the deal in July. The deal now awaits resolution of the lawsuit.
If Dish does not meet the commitments it made to Colorado, it has agreed to pay up to $20 million to the state. In addition, T-Mobile is on the hook for up to $80 million if it doesn’t follow through on its separate commitments.
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Dish has agreed to have its wireless headquarters at its Riverfront facility in Littleton for at least seven years. Its 5G service could be launched in Colorado as soon as 2023.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile has also agreed to a host of terms under the deal, including ensuring it will deploy a 5G network in Colorado with at least 68% of the state’s population having access to download speeds equal to or greater than 100 megabytes per second (Mbps) within three years. In addition, the provider agreed to have at least 76% of the Colorado population having access to download speeds equal to or greater than 50 Mbps in that same timeframe.
Within six years of the merger’s closing, T-Mobile has agreed to ensure at least 74% of Colorado’s rural population has access to download speeds equal to or greater than 100 Mbps, and at least 84% of Colorado’s rural population has access to download speeds equal to or greater than 50 Mbps.