T-Mobile and Sprint have faced delays, setbacks, and uncertainty as the two US carriers have sought merger approval over the last year. Today the two companies have scored a big win in their merger efforts, receiving the approval of FCC chairman Ajit Pai, but DOJ approval is still uncertain.
T-Mobile and Sprint submitted new documents to the FCC today detailing new changes and commitments as a part of their $26 billion deal (via Reuters). The updates were expected to be seen as positive by regulators, and that has indeed been the case as far as the FCC goes.
The Federal Communication Commission’s chairman, Ajit Pai, announced this morning that he would recommend the approval of the merger to the rest of the commission who is expected to vote on the approval sometime next month.
The commitments from the carriers today include promises to advance connectivity in rural areas as well as investments in 5G deployment, which Pai said are aligned with the FCC’s goals (via CNBC).
“Two of the FCC’s top priorities are closing the digital divide in rural America and advancing United States leadership in 5G, the next generation of wireless connectivity. The commitments made today by T-Mobile and Sprint would substantially advance each of these critical objectives,” he said in a statement.
Sprint’s shares have jumped 23% on the news, with T-Mobile’s rising 5% at the time of writing. While this is motion forward for the carriers, they still need to gain approval from the DOJ, which as of last month was looking unlikely. T-Mobile and Sprint have extended their deadline to gain the needed merger approvals from regulators until July 29th. With the FCC expected to give the official green light next month, the carriers will no doubt focus on swaying the Department of Justice to make the deal happen.
While Ajit Pai feels good about the carriers’ commitments, The Verge’s Nilay Patel notes that the enforcement is just based on self-accountability.
Nothing says "we will be held rigorously accountable" like announcing that the professor is letting you grade your own test a few months before he retires
— nilay patel (@reckless) May 20, 2019
With all that in mind, the DOJ might not be swayed by T-Mobile and Sprint’s latest promises.
— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) May 20, 2019