Colorado is dropping out of a lawsuit aimed at blocking a T-Mobile-Sprint merger in return for T-Mobile committing to expanding the state’s 5G network and Dish Network promising to create thousands of new jobs in the wireless industry in the state, the Attorney General’s office announced Monday.
The U.S. Justice Department signed off on T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion plan to buy out Sprint in July after the company agreed to sell its prepaid wireless subsidiaries — including Boost and Virgin Mobile — to Dish for $5 billion. Dish also would also take over some of T-Mobile and Sprint’s service spectrum as part of the deal, setting it up Douglas County-based satellite TV company as the nation’s fourth major wireless provider.
According to a news release issued by his office Monday, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is on board with the arrangement after securing commitments from Dish and T-Mobile he expects to greatly benefit the state. Weiser’s office had joined a multi-state lawsuit opposing the merger in June but is now dropping out of the plaintiff pool.
Under a deal struck with T-Mobile, the company has agreed to deliver on the following promises:
Within three years of merging with Sprint, T-Mobile will roll out a 5G network that brings download speeds of 100 megabits per second or greater to 68% of the Colorado population. At least 60% of people living in rural areas must have access to those speeds.
By the end of that same three-year period, at least 76% of all Coloradans will have access to download speeds of 50 megabits per second or greater including 63% of people living in rural areas.
Within six years of the merger, T-Mobile’s 5G network in Colorado will deliver download speeds of 100 megabits per second to 92% of Colorado residents, including 74% of people in rural areas. Ninety-three percent of Coloradans will have access to 50-megabits-per-second download speeds, including 84% of people in rural areas.
T-Mobile will offer two low-cost wireless plans in Colorado for at least five years after the merger goes through; one that provides unlimited talk, text and 2 gigabytes of data for no more than $15 per month and a second that offers unlimited talk, text and 5 gigabytes of data for no more than $25 per month.
Dish has committed to launching its wireless arm out of an existing company facility in Littleton and keeping it there for at least seven years, according to Monday’s announcement. The company will employ at least 2,000 people full time in the wireless industry during that time and Colorado will be among the first 10 states in which the company will launch its wireless service, per the deal struck with the state.
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T-Mobile and Dish face financial penalties if they don’t keep up their ends of these bargains, according to the AG’s office, fines of up to $80 million and $20 million, respectively.
Weiser recused himself from the negotiations but Chief Deputy Attorney General Natalie Hanlon Leh was part of the team that works on the deals announced Monday.
“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,” she said in a statement. “Our announcement today ensures Coloradans will benefit from Dish’s success as a nationwide wireless competitor.”