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FCC Finalizes Approval of T-Mobile-Sprint Merger, As States Continue to Oppose

Masha Abarinova

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WASHINGTON, August 14, 2019 - Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday issued a final order (PDF) that would approve the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. But the negotiations over the proposed transaction between the two telecom companies continues at the state level

“After one of the most exhaustive merger reviews in Commission history, the evidence conclusively demonstrates that this transaction will bring fast 5G wireless services to many more Americans and help close the digital divide in rural areas,” Pai said in a statement.

He said that the outlined conditions would promote robust competition in the mobile and fixed broadband markets as well as put critical mid-band spectrum to use. The FCC order will also address concerns and modifications to DISH Network’s spectrum holdings, in anticipation for its deployment of a nationwide 5G network.

But at the same time, the California Public Utilities Commission will continue to review the transaction into the fall, and is not scheduled to approved the deal until at least October.

Also, both Oregon and Texas have signed on to the multi-state lawsuit launched by state attorneys general to block the deal.

The agency will send the item to each individual commissioner’s office so that they may vote on the matter.

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel stated that she was not convinced that removing a competitor will provide better outcomes for consumers.

“But what I am convinced of is that before the FCC votes on this new deal negotiated by Washington, the public should have the opportunity to weigh in and comment,” she said. “Too much here has been done behind closed doors.”

*UPDATE*

Commissioner Geoffrey Starks issued the following statement:

"Sprint/T-Mobile is one of the largest deals ever reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission. What’s before us now is not the same deal the parties filed months ago. To address Department of Justice concerns, the parties made a new deal. I’m surprised the FCC is ignoring past precedent and practice by failing to seek public input.

"Sprint/T-Mobile will alter the future of wireless service in this country and will impact everyone with a cell phone. I will review the 273-page item carefully. Given its size and scope, and bipartisan litigation pending by State AGs, we shouldn’t rush our ruling without public comment.

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