Carrier Catch-Up: A Look At The Latest Buzz From The Telecom Industry

Antitrust Trials And Coming Together

Four telecom service providers announced their intentions to merge and, at the same time, two service providers landed in court. AT&T continued its battle against the Department of Justice over its proposed Time Warner merger in a trial that moved to closing arguments. Then, reports surfaced that the Justice Department was pursuing an antitrust case against the two biggest carriers in the country -- AT&T and Verizon -- on alleged collusion.

CRN rounded up news from the industry-leading service providers and other attention-grabbing headlines that happened in the telecom industry in April.

Take 3: Sprint, T-Mobile Reveal Merger Plans

In the third attempt in four years, wireless carriers Sprint and T-Mobile have revealed their latest merger agreement, claiming that together, the new company will invest $40 billion in the business and its next-generation 5G network, putting the combined company in a better position to compete with industry giants AT&T and Verizon.

The all-stock merger values Sprint at $26 billion and T-Mobile at $55 billion without debt. The deal is still subject to regulatory scrutiny from the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission.

Carriers Reportedly Under Investigation For Alleged Collusion

AT&T and Verizon allegedly came under fire in April when reports surfaced that said the Justice Department was opening an antitrust investigation into the potential coordination by AT&T, Verizon and the G.S.M.A, a mobile industry standards-setting organization, that looked at whether the three groups tried to block consumers from easily switching wireless carriers.

The three groups allegedly may have worked together by impeding eSIM technology, which lets customers remotely switch wireless providers without a SIM card. According to those familiar with the matter, AT&T and Verizon are alleged to have worked with the G.S.M.A. to create standards that would let carriers lock a mobile device to their network. Bloomberg reported that Apple was one of the companies that filed a complaint with the Justice Department.

AT&T, DoJ Move To Closing Arguments in Battle Over Time Warner

The end of April saw the closing arguments from AT&T and the Justice Department as the highly anticipated end of the five-week antitrust trial over AT&T's Time Warner acquisition drew to an end.

In conclusion, the Justice Department remains firmly against the Dallas-based carrier's $85 billion merger with media giant Time Warner because it believes the deal will hurt pay TV competitors and ultimately raise prices for consumers. In response, AT&T and Time Warner's lead attorney tried to discredit the Justice Department's assumption regarding price hikes for consumers.

The judge presiding over the case said he expects to have a decision on the matter by June 12 at the latest.

Comcast, Charter Partner To Expand Wireless Efforts

Cable giants Comcast and Charter Communications teamed up to develop a back-end mobile platform that will support both Xfinity Mobile, Comcast's wireless business service, and the soon-to-launch Spectrum Mobile service from Charter.

The two companies said that the partnership and software platform will help both providers scale their wireless offerings faster, and give them room to grow in the crowded market with their respective mobile brands. The partnership will be led by a four-person board of directors, with two directors each from Comcast and Charter. Comcast's team will develop the platform on behalf of both companies, Comcast said.

GlobalStar, FiberLight To Merge, Take Bigger Stake In CenturyLink

Satellite communications provider Globalstar unveiled plans to merge with telecom network provider FiberLight in a $1.65 billion deal that will combine satellite, wireless and fixed broadband assets.

Jay Monroe, GlobalStar's chairman and CEO, is spearheading the deal, which will also include investment firm Thermo Acquisitions. Monroe founded and is the controlling shareholder of Thermo Acquisitions, which backs FiberLight.

The new company also will own other assets in which Thermo Acquisitions already owns a stake, including 15.5 million shares of Monroe, La.-based telecom provider CenturyLink’s common stock, which are currently valued at $275 million.