Barbara T. Sicalides, a partner with Pepper Hamilton and head of the Antitrust Section of the firm’s Trial and Dispute Resolution Practice Group, was quoted in the May 22, 2019 Fierce Wireless article, "T-Mobile/Sprint Deal Chances Now Around 50/50: Analysts."
Barbara Sicalides, a partner at Pepper Hamilton LLP who specializes in antitrust law, said she doesn't remember another time where the FCC came out ahead of the DOJ with its announcement in this way.
"It's extremely interesting that they would come out with an announcement first," she said, adding that the filing on the part of T-Mobile and Sprint "reads like a very political submission." The key things that they tout the merger will provide are "absolutely" issues the DOJ Antitrust Division and AGs have to look at.
"It's pretty odd that the FCC is out there first saying this deal is going to do all these great things, essentially for competition," she told Fierce Wireless. "These are all issues related to competition"—purported synergies, promises about prices and the claim that jointly they can successfully compete with AT&T and Verizon, but separately, they can't as vigorously compete.
"All of these issues are squarely within the gambit of the DOJ Antitrust Division," she said, adding that doesn't mean the FCC can't look at them, but it's a curious set-up.
"The antitrust authorities very rarely give a blessing to a 4-to-3 transaction," she said, adding that even if a competitor, like Sprint, is limping along, as long as it provides some pressure to rivals like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile to keep prices at a certain level or to innovate, the agency would not want to lose that pressure. If a company is so weak they don't provide that and if their failure is imminent, the agency has to take that seriously and perhaps it's the winning argument, but "that doesn’t typically happen."