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​Sprint and T-Mobile Near $32 Billion Deal - Brought to You by SoftBank

By Alex Brown (@AlexBrownNJ), Laura Ryan (@NJLJRyan), Brendan Sasso (@BrendanSasso), and Dustin Volz (@dnvolz)

TODAY'S TOP PARAGRAPH: Sprint and T-Mobile have reportedly agreed on a blueprint for a $32 billion merger. The Senate Intelligence Committee will begin its review the USA Freedom Act on the one-year anniversary of Snowden's NSA surveillance leaks. CEO's of the major tech companies are urging the Senate to go big and Edward Snowden will make a (digital) appearance at an event in New York. The Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet will take a look at the IP transition.



SPRINT, T-MO MOVE CLOSER TO $32 BILLION DEAL: The two carriers have agreed on the broad outlines of a merger, according to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Bloomberg. Sprint would pay $40 per share to acquire T-Mobile and would have to take on the company's debt, according to the reports. The deal, which could come next month, includes a break-up fee of more than $1 billion. The FCC and Justice Department have already indicated their skepticism of the deal, which would reduce the number of national carriers from four to three.

SENATE TAKES FIRST STEP ON NSA LEGISLATION: The Senate Intelligence Committee will begin its review of the USA Freedom Act with a hearing today. Privacy advocates hope the Senate will include tighter restraints on the NSA's power in their bill than the version that passed the House last month.

Observers are anxious to hear Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein's plans for legislation. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the panel's top Republican, said earlier this week that he thinks the House bill went too far in curbing bulk collection. Will the Intelligence Committee produce its own version of the Freedom Act or let the Judiciary Committee take the lead? The Intelligence panel already passed its own bill last year that made only minor tweaks to the NSA's power. But the debate has shifted a lot since then, and other lawmakers will likely demand stronger reforms.


TECH CEOS URGE SENATE ACTION: The CEO's of Apple, Google, Microsoft, and the other companies in the "Reform Government Surveillance" coalition signed an open letter urging the Senate to pass NSA legislation that "would help restore the confidence of Internet users." The executives said the House's Freedom Act would fail to end bulk collection and lacks adequate transparency provisions.

'RESET THE NET': Activists and companies are marking the one-year anniversary of the first Snowden leak by urging Internet users and companies to better encrypt their communications.

NETFLIX TELLS USERS TO BLAME PROVIDERS FOR POOR VIDEO QUALITY: Netflix is displaying messages—like "The Verizon network is crowded right now"—for its buffering videos, pinning the blame on providers when video speed is lagging. The streaming site has reluctantly paid providers for direct connections to their networks, and wants to put public pressure on the providers not to degrade its service. (Zachary Seward, Quartz)

… VERIZON HITS BACK: The telecom giant called Netflix's message a "PR stunt" that is "deliberately misleading." Verizon said the problems are "almost certainly not" due to congestion on its network. "Instead, the problem is most likely congestion on the connection that Netflix has chosen to use to reach Verizon's network," Verizon wrote in a blog post. "Of course, Netflix is solely responsible for choosing how their traffic is routed into any ISP's network."


SENATORS PRESS FCC TO END BLACKOUT RULES: Sens. John McCain and Richard Blumenthal continued their push to end blackout rules for sporting events, urging the FCC Wednesday to vote by early August on a proposed change to the current standards.

In December, the agency proposed an end to its rule that cable and satellite providers have to abide by broadcast blackouts imposed by sports leagues. The bipartisan pair back that plan, and they're urging the FCC to bring it to a quick vote (the original Notice of Proposed Rulemaking passed unanimously).

COMMERCE BEGINS PRIVACY REVIEW: The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration is seeking comment on big data's impact on the Obama administration's Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, as called for in the White House's big-data report that came out last month.

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HOUSE JUDICIARY TO STUDY AT&T/DIRECTV DEAL: The panel's antitrust subcommittee has scheduled a hearing featuring both companies' CEOs for June 24.

D.C. CIRCUIT TO HEAR CHALLENGE TO COLLUSION RULES: The D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has been selected through a lottery to hear the broadcasters' challenge to the FCC's ban on joint sales agreements. The court is often more hostile to the FCC than other circuits.

JUSTICE, FTC ASK FOR FEEDBACK ON BUNDLING: The antitrust departments are asking the public to weigh in bundling—which many providers use to sell channels or services as a package deal—in advance of their June 24 workshop on the issue. (John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable)

WHY ELON MUSK IS SUING THE AIR FORCE: paceX is suing its would-be biggest customer for the right to compete for more Pentagon launches. (Brown, NJ)

FRANKEN'S PRIVACY BILL FACES RESISTANCE FROM ADVERTISERS: Franken's bill focuses on banning stalker apps, but it wades further into the privacy wars–and advertisers aren't happy about it. (Ryan, NJ)

TELECOM'S MISSION TO KEEP FIBER UNUSED: Cities around the country are wired with fiber, but the major telecom's have been working hard to make sure it doesn't reach consumers' homes. (Jason Koebler, Motherboard)

JULIUS GENACHOWSKI JOINS MASTERCARD: The former FCC chairman is now on the credit card company's board of directors.

CAN COMPUTERS SETTLE A CONSTITUTIONAL DEBATE? A recent academic article suggested that computers can determine how long GPS tracking can continue before it violates the Fourth Amendment. Professors Orin Kerr and Steven Bellovin have been debating the issue in a series of blog posts. Read them here, here, here, and here.


  • The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold a hearing on NSA reform legislation at 2:30 p.m.
  • The Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet will hold a hearing on the IP transition at 9:15 a.m.
  • Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, and Microsoft's Brad Smith are among a long list of speakers at the the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City. Snowden will join EPIC's John Perry Barlow for a conversation at 10:30.
  • The Cyber Security Summit, a daylong event hosted by The Wall Street Journal, will begin at 8 a.m.
  • The Brookings Institution will host a discussion on the future of U.S. surveillance to mark the one-year anniversary of the NSA leaks at 2 p.m.

Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Love it - first thing I read in the morning."

Amy, VP of Communications

I read the Tech Edge every morning."

Ashley, Senior Media Associate

Sign up form for the newsletter