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Sprint, T-Mobile extend deadline to complete $26B merger

Extension comes amid talk that the merger may be in trouble.


T-Mobile and Sprint have extended the deadline for completing their proposed merger.

Josh Miller/CNET

Sprint and T-Mobile have pushed back the deadline for their proposed $26 billion merger by three months amid rumors that their tie-up is on the ropes.

T-Mobile announced in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday that the two companies had agreed to extend the deadline for completing their planned merger to July 29. The previous deadline had been Monday.

The No. 3 and No. 4 wireless providers are trying to win approval for their merger from the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission, but the effort may be in trouble. Top executives from T-Mobile and Sprint have been in Washington for much of the past month for meetings with the FCC and Justice Department to convince them the merger is necessary for the companies to compete effectively with Verizon and AT&T, which together control more than 70% of the wireless market.

In an interview on CNBC, Justice Department Antitrust Division chief Makan Delrahim said that the meetings were ongoing as regulators review the deal.

"I have not made up my mind," he told CNBC. "The investigation continues. We've requested some data from the companies that will be forthcoming. We don't have a set number of meetings or a time line.

"If the case is there for us to challenge a transaction or suggest changes, we will do that," he said, adding that the division is reviewing the argument that the merger will allow the combined company to produce faster next-generation wireless services.

The deal -- announced a year ago Monday -- comes at a time when the US carriers are bending over backward to win your business, with offers like unlimited data and freebies such as access to Netflix. Sprint is still giving away a year of service for free. Those competitive pressures have driven T-Mobile and Sprint together. And while executives from both companies vow lower prices and better service, consumer groups and analysts are skeptical.