United States telecom regulator approves T-Mobile/Sprint merger

Yolanda Curtis
November 6, 2019

"The Commission found that the transaction will help close the digital divide and advance United States leadership in 5G, the next generation of wireless connectivity", the FCC said in a statement. 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. T-Mobile and Sprint have committed to deploying 5G service to cover 97 percent of Americans within three years.

"In the short term, this merger will result in the loss of potentially thousands of jobs", wrote Commissioner Geoffrey Starks. In three years, T-Mobile also promised to cover 85% of rural Americans with 5G signals rising to 90% within six years. In addition to this, the two companies pledged to give 90 percent of citizens access to mobile service with at least 100 Mbps within six years.

The FCC's decision to formally approve the merger does not come as a surprise.

The company has been using the "New T-Mobile" name to refer to its combined company with Sprint. Payments would continue until the targets are met.

Under the Justice Department deal, the companies would divest Sprint's prepaid businesses, including Boost Mobile, to satellite television company Dish Network Corp DISH.O , and provide it with access to 20,000 cell sites and hundreds of retail locations.

The FCC found that the merger, under the above conditions, will not hurt wireless competition in the USA and "would enhance competition in rural America and among quality-conscious consumers along with strengthening competition in the home broadband and enterprise markets". He insists that by buying Sprint, his company will be able to better compete against industry leaders Verizon and AT&T, all to the benefit of USA consumers.

In the states' lawsuit, lead by NY and California, state attorneys general argue that the merger will reduce competition and lead to increased costs for consumers. That deal is worth about $5 billion. A trial in that suit is set for early December.

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