FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today formally recommended that the T-Mobile-Sprint merger be approved. Pai has submitted a draft order to the other FCC commissioners who will vote on whether or not to approve it.
“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,” FCC Chairman Pai said in his announcement. “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.”
Ajit Pai first came out in support of T-Mobile and Sprint’s merger back in May when the two carriers announced three commitments related to the merger’s completion, including the sale of Boost Mobile and a promise to not raise prices for three years. At that time, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr also voiced support for the merger, and FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly said that he was “inclined to support” T-Mo and Sprint’s deal.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel isn’t on board with the merger. In response to FCC Chairman Pai’s announcement of support of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger, Commissioner Rosenworcel said, “I believe we need more competition, not less. I am not convinced that removing a competitor will lead to 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. Too much here has been done behind closed doors.”
T-Mobile and Sprint’s merger got approval from the Department of Justice last month, and getting official support from FCC Chairman Pai is another important milestone for T-Mo and Sprint. The merger isn’t a done deal quite yet, though, because a group of 16 state attorneys general are suing to block the merger, saying it will lessen competition, raise prices for consumers, and harm jobs. That trial is set to begin in December.