FCC Officially Approves T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

Vote was split among party lines, but some challenges may remain.
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WASHINGTON—Despite receiving two no votes from the FCC’s Democratic commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks on Wednesday, Oct. 16, the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger was officially approved thanks to the commission’s three Republican commissioners previously approving the merger.

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The merger between the two companies has a price tag of $26 billion and also includes a negotiated deal to sell assets to Dish Network, including Boost Mobile, as part of a mandated divestiture.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, when he first signaled his approval for the merger in August, said the deal would assist with the deployment of a 5G wireless network, improve mobile broadband services and increase the 5G infrastructure across the U.S.

However, Starks disagrees. “I believe that T-Mobile and Sprint have not proven that their merger will benefit the public interest,” he said, citing that regulating or inciting penalties against the company for any violations will prove difficult and even some penalties can be tax-deductible “voluntary contributions.”

Starks isn’t the only one to make their disapproval of the merger known. Common Cause has announced that it has filed a petition to deny the merger with the FCC.

“The majority-FCC’s vote to approve the disastrous T-Mobile/Sprint merger is a vote to raise prices, reduce innovation and price out millions of low-income and marginalized communities from wireless service,” said Michael Copps, former FCC commissioner and Common Cause special advisor. “Rather than actually conduct a thorough public interest review of the merger, the majority at the FCC signaled it would approve the deal months ago pointing to promises and commitments made by T-Mobile and Sprint. But these promises and behavioral commitments are unenforceable and riddled with loopholes that do nothing to address significant harms consumers would face from the merger.

“Fortunately, more than 14 state attorney generals have filed a lawsuit to block this merger. We support their legal effort and continue to mobilize opposition against this merger, which poses a significant danger to our democracy.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who is running for president, also raised her concerns over the merger and supports state attorney generals to challenge the merger.

The Justice Department has already said that it would not sue to block the deal, citing the conditions that were added to address antitrust concerns.