California settles with T-Mobile and Sprint, drops merger opposition

(Reuters) — The office of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will not appeal a court’s decision that a merger of wireless carriers Sprint and T-Mobile may go forward, it said on Wednesday.

The notice said the state reached a settlement with the companies but did not elaborate.

California and New York had led a fight by more than 10 states to stop the merger on grounds it would lead to higher prices but lost in February. New York has already said it will not appeal the defeat.

The deal still must be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, which is scheduled to make a final decision on the matter on April 16.

The U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission signed off on the merger last year after the companies agreed to divest Sprint’s prepaid businesses, including Boost Mobile, to satellite television company Dish Network, and provide it with access to 20,000 cell sites and hundreds of retail locations. That deal is worth about $5 billion.

Other states that settled before the trial in December have focused on price restraints and jobs.

Under an agreement with Texas, the companies are precluded from raising prices for Texans for five years and committed to building a 5G network throughout the state, including rural areas, during the next six years.

Colorado had dropped its opposition after striking an agreement with T-Mobile and Dish. Dish pledged to bring 2,000 jobs to Colorado, and T-Mobile agreed to deploy the next generation of wireless 5G across much of the state.

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