Justice Department officials recently told Sprint board members that a Sprint acquisition of T-Mobile US “could face regulatory difficulties,” The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday night. Sprint is laying the groundwork for a bid on T-Mobile that could leave the US with only three major cellular carriers.

This comes more than two years after AT&T’s attempt to buy T-Mobile was dropped because of opposition from the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission. “Sprint Corp. board members Masayoshi Son and Dan Hesse met recently with Justice Department officials who said they would view a Sprint acquisition of wireless rival T-Mobile US Inc. with skepticism, people briefed on the conversation said,” the Journal reported. “The message from regulators shouldn’t have come as a surprise,” the newspaper noted. “In April, the Justice Department wrote in a comment letter to the FCC that the four wireless carriers competed in ways that are important to consumers.

The FCC has sent similar signals.”     

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