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Sprint-T-Mobile Deal Clears Major Hurdle With FCC Nod

The third and fourth largest wireless carriers received FCC approval on Wednesday following a 3-2 vote in favor of the $26.5 billion tie-up that the carriers say will help them better compete in 5G.

Sprint and T-Mobile have cleared one their last hurdles standing in its way of merging in a $26.5 billion deal first proposed last year.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted Wednesday along party lines and ultimately approved the Sprint-T-Mobile merger in a 3-2 vote. Getting the FCC's sign-off was one of the final roadblocks the two carriers face.

Sprint has not publicly commented on receiving the FCC's approval and T-Mobile also hasn't released a public statement, but T-Mobile's vocal CEO John Legere took to Twitter yesterday to share the news.

"The votes are IN and we're one step closer to bringing New T-Mobile to American consumers. We appreciate the diligent evaluation, time and attention the @FCC commissioners took to assess our transaction," Legere wrote in a tweet.

[Related: Third Time's A Charm: The $26.5B T-Mobile-Sprint Merger Is Approved]

Sprint and T-Mobile did not respond to CRN's request for comment on the approval before publication time.

Chairman Ajit Pai and the two Republican commissioners approved the deal, and two Democratic commissioners voting against the deal, including Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.

Rosenworcel pointed to examples of high-profile mergers in other industries, including the airline and pharmaceutical industries, that hurt competition and created higher prices for end customers in her statement.

"We’ve all seen what happens when markets become more concentrated after a merger like this one … There’s no reason to think this time will be different. Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that the T-Mobile-Sprint merger will reduce competition, raise prices, lower quality, and slow innovation," she said.

T-Mobile and Sprint, the third and fourth-largest wireless providers in the country, have said that the tie-up will help them compete more aggressively with telecom incumbents AT&T and Verizon and create a stronger 5G story.

Sprint and T-Mobile may now have to square off against several state attorneys general who have filed lawsuits to block the deal, saying that the merger will reduce competition and drive up consumer costs.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) gave the green light on the deal in July following months of lengthy negotiations between Sprint and T-Mobile. The DOJ's approval was contingent on Sprint and T-Mobile agreeing to divest Sprint’s prepaid businesses and Sprint’s 800 MHz spectrum assets to Dish Network in an effort to turn Dish into a fourth wireless provider option for consumers. The companies also must provide Dish wireless customers access to the soon-to-be-combined Sprint/T-Mobile network for seven years and offer standard transition services arrangements to Dish during a transition period of up to three years. Dish will also have an option to take on leases for certain cell sites and retail locations that are decommissioned by the combined company.

 

 

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