A federal judge has removed a major obstacle to T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion takeover of Sprint, as he rejected claims by a group of states that the deal would mean less competition and higher phone bills.

After the deal closes, the number of major U.S. wireless companies would shrink from four to three. T-Mobile says the deal would benefit consumers as it becomes a fiercer competitor to the larger Verizon and AT&T.

But a group of state attorneys general tried to block the deal, arguing that having one fewer phone company would cost Americans billions of dollars in higher cellphone bills.

Judge Victor Marrero ruled Tuesday that while that concern was valid, the possibility of it happening was remote.

Marrero’s decision comes after the Justice Department already approved the deal. As part of a settlement with the Justice Department, T-Mobile agreed to help create a new, but smaller wireless competitor in satellite-TV company Dish.

A federal judge has paved the way for cellular phone service providers T-Mobile and Sprint to merge on Feb. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Lenihan)

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