Everyone Finds Something to Like in FCC Approval of Wireless T-Mobile/MetroPCS Merger

Broadband's Impact, Wireless March 12th, 2013

, Reporter, BroadbandBreakfast.com

WASHINGTON, March 12, 2013 – The Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday announced their approval of the proposed merger of mobile wireless carriers T-Mobile and MetroPCS.

Two years after the two agencies nixed AT&T’s attempted acquisition of T-Mobile on antitrust grounds, different non-profit interest groups found different reasons to applaud the news.

“Not long ago AT&T and certain commenters were arguing that T-Mobile could not survive on its own, predicting that the national market would eventually be narrowed down to just two giant carriers,” said John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney at the non-profit Public Knowledge.

“But policymakers made a stand in favor of competition, and subsequent events have shown they were right to do so. Both Sprint and T-Mobile are in stronger positions than ever before, causing even AT&T to invest in network upgrades. We hope that the FCC updates its spectrum aggregation policies so that the market stays competitive and AT&T and Verizon do not find new ways to pull further ahead of their smaller competitors.”

Sand Randy May, president of the free-market Free State Foundation: “I’ve often been critical of the FCC’s handling of merger applications in the past, especially when the Commission has imposed extraneous conditions that are outside of the bounds of its proper inquiry and when it unduly delays acting on the applications.”

“In this instance, the Commission deserves credit for not imposing conditions its approval of the merger, even though it was asked to impose extraneous job protection provisions. And it deserves credit for acting in a somewhat timely fashion, at least by the Commission’s standards.”

As a result of the approval from the FCC, T-Mobile is free to transfer existing personal communication systems, and advanced wireless services, including licenses and leases to a a new combined corporation known as T-Mobile US Inc. The transaction will also include one lower 700 Megahertz license.

According to the FCC news release, the combination “will result in the combination of overlapping mobile wireless coverage and services in various markets, as well as the transfer of customers…to the newly combined entity.”

According to T Mobile and MetroPCS, the transaction will “combine complimentary spectrum portfolios that…would result in larger blocks of contiguous spectrum.” This combination will allow for “ higher speeds, greater throughput rates and increased capacity.” The two companies hope that the new company will also enhance their broadband and deployment of LTE, the long-term evolution standard for mobile broadband.

“With today’s approval, America’s mobile market continues to strengthen, moving toward robust competition and revitalized competitors,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “Mobile broadband is a key engine of economic growth, with U.S. annual wireless capital investment up 40 percent over the last four years, the largest increase in the world, and few sectors having more potential to create jobs. In this fast-moving space, of course challenges remain, including the need to unleash even more spectrum for mobile broadband and continuing to promote competition and protect consumers.”

See the PDF of the order here.

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