California ends opposition to T-Mobile and Sprint merger

It hopes a settlement will overcome concerns about prices and jobs.

New York isn't the only big state dropping its fight against T-Mobile's merger with Sprint. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has dropped the state's challenge against the merger after reaching a settlement that theoretically addresses objections to the carrier buyout. The expanded T-Mobile will have to guarantee affordable plans in California for a minimum of five years, including a plan with 2GB of data for $25 per month. The network will also have to hold to plans from February 2019 for five years (two year longer than the FCC asked for) and give 10 million low-income households access to 100GB of free broadband per year, including a free mobile hotspot.

The settlement also aims to protect jobs. Current retail employees at T-Mobile and Sprint will have to get offers of "substantially similar" jobs post-merger, with the total employee count after three years being "equal to or greater than" what it was before the merger. California wants T-Mobile to create about 1,000 jobs with a call center in Kingsburg, improve participation in diversity programs and pay at least $15 million for investigation-related costs across the states involved in the lawsuit.

While the California Public Utility Commission still has to greenlight the merger, the settlement (along with those from other states) makes an approval that much more likely. The deal could close by April 1st if that happens. The arrangement won't address some of the concerns from objectors, including the reduced number of carriers and the potential for job cuts in the future, but it might prevent some of the worst consequences of corporate takeovers.