December 13, 2019 / 8:43 PM / 8 months ago

T-Mobile CEO takes the stand in T-Mobile/Sprint merger trial

FILE PHOTO: T-Mobile US Inc Chief Executive Officer John Legere arrives at Manhattan Federal Court during the T-Mobile/Sprint federal case in New York, U.S., December12, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

(Reuters) - T-Mobile US Inc Chief Executive John Legere testified on Friday that he believes U.S. regulators considered Dish Network’s history of attempting to build a wireless network when they approved the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint Corp.

A group of U.S. states have sued to stop the merger, saying it would lead to higher prices.

T-Mobile and Sprint have already received approval for the deal from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), after the companies agreed to sell Sprint’s prepaid phone business and some spectrum to satellite TV provider Dish, which has committed to building a nationwide wireless network and becoming a competitor in the industry.

The states have argued that Dish has a history of stockpiling FCC licenses for wireless spectrum, or airwaves that carry data, and has not yet demonstrated that it can build a wireless network.

Legere was the defense’s first witness, and his testimony came on the fifth day of a trial that is expected to run until Dec. 20. He has previously accused Dish of “hoarding” spectrum.

Glenn Pomerantz, an attorney representing California in the lawsuit, asked Legere about a letter T-Mobile previously sent to the FCC, criticizing Dish’s wireless business plans as a “modernized version of last century’s two-way paging.”

Legere testified that he believed the FCC considered Dish’s track record when it approved the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint.

Under the terms with the FCC, which has given the green light to the T-Mobile and Sprint merger, Dish committed to build a 5G wireless network that will cover at least 70% of the U.S. population by June 2023, or it will pay up to $2.2 billion in fines.

Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Noeleen Walder and David Gregorio

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