By Sheila Dang
U.S. cable and satellite TV providers Altice USA Inc and Dish Network Corp have urged U.S. regulators not to approve the planned merger between T-Mobile US Inc and Sprint Corp in its current form, according to filings published on Tuesday.
The $26 billion deal between the two U.S. wireless carriers, which would shrink the wireless market to three big players from four, faces a review from the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
In the filing with the FCC, Altice said it opposed the merger and called for the regulator to put conditions on the deal, including requiring the combined T-Mobile to honor its partnerships with Altice and other companies that rely on its network, and even divest wireless spectrum that the companies can use.
Altice plans to resell Sprint's wireless service under its own brand next year, but is limited to selling its phone plans in the cable provider's current markets.
While that agreement still stands, Altice said it was concerned about T-Mobile's willingness to allow Altice to expand its wireless service nationwide and over the long term, since the carrier has made "no tangible commitments" to do so.
In a separate filing, Dish said the merger would likely increase prices for consumers and that T-Mobile and Sprint have overstated their argument that the carriers need to combine to build a 5G network, the next-generation wireless network that is expected to bring faster data speeds.
T-Mobile and Sprint have previously cited cable companies such as Comcast Corp and Charter Communications Inc , which are entering the wireless industry, as evidence of growing competition.
The Communications Workers of America, a union that represents some telecommunications workers, also said in a separate FCC filing on Monday that the merger will result in more than 28,000 job losses.
In response to the FCC filings, T-Mobile and Sprint said in a joint statement on Tuesday that they were confident the merger will create more competition and be positive for consumers.
"These filings are part of the normal FCC open comment process and we welcome the opportunity for this important dialogue. We look forward to submitting our responses by the September 17th filing date," the companies said.
(Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien, Leslie Adler and David Gregoro)