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US: FCC formally approves the T-Mobile-Sprint merger

 |  November 5, 2019

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formally approved the T-Mobile-Sprint merger. The decision comes after a drawn-out review of T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion bid to merge with Sprint.

The FCC believes the deal will close the digital divide and advance 5G in the US. T-Mobile and Sprint have committed to deploying 5G service to cover 97 percent of Americans within three years. They’ve also pledged to provide 90 percent of Americans with access to mobile service with speeds of at least 100 Mbps within six years. The FCC’s approval is conditional on those promises, and the parties could be fined over $2 billion if they don’t meet those goals, reported the Wall Street Journal. 

According to the Commission, the merger will not harm competition, though several state attorneys general and a couple of FCC commissioners have argued otherwise. “While the parties promise their merger will accelerate the availability of some form of ‘5G’ for some Americans, history teaches us that the most likely effect of this merger will be higher prices and fewer options for all Americans,” said Commissioner Geoffrey Starks in a statement.

The FCC evaluates whether deals are in the public interest, while the Justice Department, which has also approved the transaction, evaluates the likely effects a tie-up will have on competition.

When federal antitrust officials in July announced a settlement with the companies that included shedding spectrum and helping Dish Network Corp. create a new wireless carrier, the FCC said the pact coupled with the carriers’ earlier commitments to deploy a nationwide 5G network would advance the US’s goal of leading the rollout of faster wireless networks.