T-Mobile US successfully won over one of the states suing to block its proposed merger with Sprint, inking a deal with Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood to rapidly bring 5G to a majority of the state’s population in return for it withdrawing from the legal action.
In a statement, Hood said the deal would help fill in “internet deserts across the state,” particularly in rural areas which had been left behind in the digital revolution. He claimed only 2 per cent of Mississippi residents would be able to access T-Mobile’s 5G services if the Sprint merger isn’t approved.
Hood was one of 18 attorney generals (from 17 states and the District of Columbia) who backed a lawsuit aiming to block the deal. Pennsylvania was the latest addition to the coalition, signing on in September.
In a tweet, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said the operator is “thrilled” by Hood’s decision to withdraw from the lawsuit and looks forward to “addressing real issues like disparities in rural education and competitive pricing for lower income consumers”.
Mississippi is now one of eight states supporting the deal, with seven others endorsing merger conditions imposed by the US Department of Justice.
T-Mobile committed to deploy a 5G network offering at least 67 per cent of the state’s general population and 62 per cent of its rural users access to download speeds of 100Mb/s or higher within three years of closing the merger. It also committed to deliver minimum rates of 50Mb/s to 72 per cent of the general and 64 per cent of the rural population by the same point.
Within six years from closing, the operator pledged to offer 100Mb/s rates to 92 per cent of the general, and 88 per cent of the rural population.
The operator also committed to offer unlimited talk and text tariffs, priced at US$15 per month with a 2GB data allowance, or US$25 for 5GB.
It agreed to deploy its home broadband service to thousands of urban and rural properties, and offer access to a national education initiative offering free connectivity and equipment to households with school-age children.
There was also a pledge to maintain retail staffing levels and open new stores in rural areas.-Mobile World Live