FCC’s Pai Approves of T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

WASHINGTON—FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has made his official position on the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint known to his colleagues, saying in a draft Order that he would approve the merger, subject to certain conditions.

Following a comprehensive review of the proposed merger and public interest claims of T-Mobile, Sprint and third parties, the draft Order was created and is now being circulated for the FCC’s consideration.

According to the draft Order, a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint will help to accelerate the deployment of a 5G wireless network, improve the quality of mobile broadband services for consumers and increase 5G infrastructure deployment in the U.S. The improved network quality and coverage will not only benefit consumers, but the report says it will also foster innovation in different sectors and services. It is also expected to help close the digital divide for rural areas, with one of the conditions subjected in the order being that there be 5G coverage of at 99% of Americans within six years.

The draft Order also attempts to review concerns that were raised in the record regarding competitive effectiveness of the transaction, including the potential for competitive harm. The Order stipulates that as long as there is a divestiture of Boost Mobile, as well as other conditions, price-sensitive customers in densely-populated areas will not be harmed.

The Order also addresses Dish’s planned acquisition of Boost Mobile, saying that the acquisition, in connection with its planned 5G deployment, would be in the best interest of the public. Associated extensions, commitments and modifications has been delegated to the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau for processing and implementation with procedures set forth in the Communications Act and the draft Order.

“After one of the most exhaustive merger reviews in Commission history, the evidence conclusively demonstrates that this transaction will bring fast 5G wireless service to many more Americans and help close the digital divide in rural areas,” said Pai. “Moreover, with the conditions included in this draft Order, the merger will promote robust competition in mobile broadband, put critical mid-band spectrum to use and bring new competition to the fixed broadband market.”