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Nevada drops opposition to T-Mobile-Sprint merger

CARSON CITY — The planned mega­merger between T-Mobile and Sprint got a little easier Monday as the Nevada attorney general’s office announced that the state will drop its legal challenge to the deal.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford had initially joined a coalition of state attorneys general in June in a lawsuit seeking to block the merger over concerns that the deal would decrease competition in Nevada and lead to higher-priced wireless plans and a decrease in coverage and quality for subscribers.

As part of a settlement agreement announced Monday, Nevada will withdraw from the lawsuit in exchange for a series of commitments by the two companies. Those conditions ensure eventual 5G coverage for more than 90 percent of the state’s population, low-priced plans, protections for current T-Mobile and Sprint employees and millions in charitable contributions toward expanded broadband access for Native American tribes and women- and minority-owned small businesses.

“With this settlement, T-Mobile and Sprint have demonstrated their commitment to preserve Nevada jobs, deploy a high speed 5G network across the state covering 83 percent of our rural communities, and offer low-price plans,” Ford said in a statement.“Beyond these benefits, the New T-Mobile will make a significant investment to enhance service to our Native American tribal communities, contribute to programs that enhance opportunities for minorities, women and small businesses. Because of these commitments, I can now support a merger that will preserve Nevada jobs and benefit consumers throughout our state.”

Marcelo Claure, executive chairman of Sprint, thanked Ford in a tweet Monday, and said that “We’re getting closer to making the new T-Mobile a reality.”

The attorney general of Texas also announced Monday that the Lone Star State will withdraw from the lawsuit after a similar settlement. The merger is still facing opposition from 14 other attorneys general, including those of New York, California and the District of Columbia.

The commitments to Nevada from T-Mobile/Sprint include:

■ 5G coverage for 64 percent of Nevada’s population within three years of the close of the merger. And within six years, the network will be required to cover 94 percent of the state’s population, including 83 percent of rural Nevada residents.

■ For six years, T-Mobile will offer Nevadans plan options of unlimited talk and text and at least 2 gigabytes of data for $15 month, and a 5-gigabyte plan for $25 per month. The data in both plans will also increase incrementally to “nearly double” the initial amount.

■ Access to T-Mobile’s nationwide broadband internet, which will provide “free connectivity and equipment to households with school-age children.”

— All current T-Mobile and Sprint retail employees will receive an offer of employment from the new T-Mobile with comparable wages. The company will also maintain the Sprint call center in Las Vegas that employees 450 people for at least six years.

— T-Mobile will make a total of $30 million in charitable contributions that will go towards funding broadband improvements for Native American tribes and supporting small businesses owned by women and minorities, according to the attorney general’s office.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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