After several extensions and a year of reviews, the Federal Communications Commission has finally given a go-ahead to T-Mobile and Sprint merger following a contentious vote last month. In the recent vote, FCC commissioners had voted along the party lines. However, two Democrats on the commission dissented from the majority. The FCC has given its approval to merger saying the move will hasten 5G deployment and ‘enhance competition’. The decision is on the expected line given that FCC chairman Ajit Pai had hinted in May that he would give a green signal to the merger and recommend the same to his colleagues.
“In particular, the merger will help secure the United States leadership in 5G network, enhance competition in the broadband market, and close the digital divide in rural America,” Pai said in a statement. The two mobile companies have been desperately trying to seal the deal for years apparently to strengthen their position to compete with the considerably larger Verizon AT&T. Even before the merger, both the companies had been working on complementary 5G strategies. The deal has also been approved by the Department of Justice. As part of the regulatory review process, the wireless network operator has agreed to a time frame for setting out next-generation 5G networks and divest Sprint subsidiary Boost Mobile. But the state attorneys general are still opposing the merger.
Though the merger would make the market more competitive, there are fears that it would be a net negative for consumers as they would be left with less choice than ever. T-Mobile CEO John Legere has already promised that the price of wireless plans will not be raised for three years following the merger. But data suggests that a merger would reduce the competition which could result in a price hike in the long run. While the impacts of the merger still remain unclear, it expected that it some more details will come out during T-Mobiles’s next Uncarrier which has been scheduled for November 11.