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Presidential hopefuls Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., drafted a letter requesting the FCC to solicit public response on the $26 billion telecom merger once more before approval, expressing concerns that the deal further empowers telecom monopolies.
FCC chair Ajit Pai circulated the FCC's provisional approval of the deal, including an associated extension of spectrum build-out requirements for Dish.
The Democrats’ letter cited mounting antitrust concerns with the merger that would negatively impact consumers.
“We have major antitrust concerns regarding the impact of the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger on consumers, competition, and the public interest,” the senators wrote in the letter. “We remain concerned about the lack of transparency in the FCC’s merger review process and the lack of certainty on whether this merger will protect competition and consumers.”
The Justice Department previously negotiated a deal with T-Mobile-Sprint to redistribute some assets, like Boost Mobile to Dish Network, after earlier public commenting cycles elicited concern. With the reallocation of assets, Dish would build a fourth major wireless carrier to replace Sprint. Critics, like Klobuchar, fear this scenario will not happen and by approving the deal the DOJ and the FCC will instead suppress competitors.
Pai first said he would approve the merger in May after the carriers promised they would quickly deploy 5G across the country and in rural areas. Two FCC conservative commissioners, Brendan Carr and Mike O’Rielly, also said they would vote to approve, effectively ensuring that the merger would pass.
The Democratic senators, along with two FCC Democrats, want the FCC to put the Dish spectrum build-out extension and Dish's planned 5G deployment out for review before the approval, but Pai doesn’t feel it’s necessary.
On Thursday, the chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., also urged the agency to review the deal further.
“As I have noted before, the proposed transaction is presumptively illegal under decades of black letter law and the Justice Department’s merger enforcement guidelines,” David Cicilline wrote.
Apart from Congress' outcry, the T-Mobile-Sprint deal also faces a multi-state lawsuit led by New York Attorney General Letitia James and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
The FCC did not immediately respond to FOX Business’ request for comment.