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A fight is heating up over T-Mobile’s $26 billion deal with Sprint

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T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Sprint executive chairman Marcelo Claure will be pitching their companies’ $26 billion merger before Congress this week, hoping to ease lawmaker’s concerns about wireless competition while pushing the tie-up as a key part of the nation’s 5G quest.

Why it matters: It’s a key test for a deal that would reduce the number of major national wireless carriers from four to three.Driving the news: The fierce lobbying battle over the $26 billion deal has divided Democrats.

Yes, but: The deal doesn’t need congressional sign off, but legislators can put pressure on the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice to block it. The companies have aggressively lobbied both agencies.

  • The deal has been approved by regulators in New York, and it still requires approval in California.

Details: The hearings, of the House Energy and Commerce and Judiciary committees, are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. (The Washington, D.C. funeral for former Rep. John Dingell is also being held Thursday, so plans could shift.)

What to watch: How seriously the FCC and the DOJ take T-Mobile’s argument the deal will help it bolster its 5G networks to compete with AT&T and Verizon, the linchpin of a major push on the part of the company to get the merger through.

  • T-Mobile and Sprint also pledged last week not to raise rates for three years, an attempt to mitigate concerns that the merger will lead to higher prices.
  • The companies are also pledging to open several new service centers that they say would each create 1,000 jobs.
  • Their lobbying has been up close and personal. Legere has regularly tweeted from his trips to Washington, and the company’s executives have stayed on multiple occasions at the Trump International Hotel, according to the Washington Post.

The coalition opposed to the deal also met with staffers for all five FCC members this past week, according to agency filings.

The big picture: Regulators have been tasked with weighing a series of major mergers in telecom and tech in recent years, including AT&T’s blockbuster acquisition of Time Warner, that stand to transform how Americans get information and entertainment.

  • The FCC and DOJ consider deals in parallel. The former looks at whether a merger is in the public interest, while the latter weighs the impact on competition.
  • T-Mobile and Sprint have said they think the deal will close “no later than the first half” of this year.
  • The government shutdown slowed down the regulatory review process.

History lesson: AT&T’s effort to buy T-Mobile was blocked in 2011; Sprint and T-Mobile subsequently discussed a deal during the Obama administration but never moved forward because regulators made clear they would fight any combination among the Big 4 carriers.

The bottom line: The deal’s opponents are fighting an uphill battle against a generally business-friendly administration, but the hearings this week let them air their concerns and turn up the heat.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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