T-Mobile has said that its merger with Sprint could close as soon as April 1st, but it’s looking like that may not happen.
While T-Mobile and Sprint have secured most of the approvals they need to complete their merger, they’re still waiting to get the green light from the California Public Utilities Commision. The CPUC is the last state utility commission of 19 total that hasn’t voted on the deal, and as noted by Bloomberg, it has said that it will vote on a final decision on the merger at an April 16th meeting.
T-Mobile and Sprint asked the CPUC to move the merger decision up to its March 26th meeting and to shorten the public review period, which is set to be released by March 13th. However, the CPUC denied both requests.
It’s possible that T-Mobile could go ahead with the merger in the 49 other states and wait to combine in California until it gets approval. Considering that California is a big state that’s also the most populous state in the country, though, T-Mobile and Sprint may decide that it’s not worth the trouble since they’re so close to completing the merger entirely.
The T-Mobile-Sprint merger is also undergoing a Tunney Act review by Judge Timothy Kelly for any possible antitrust violations. The issue here is that Kelly has been quiet for more than a month and it’s unclear when he might make his final decision.
As PCMag notes, Kelly was appointed by President Trump in 2017, and so it’s not likely that he’s going to block the merger after it’s already been approved by the FCC and DOJ. Still, it’s probably frustrating for T-Mobile and Sprint that the review is still happening and that Kelly has been quiet as of late.
T-Mobile and Sprint continue to prepare as if the merger will be allowed to complete despite these hold-ups. The two carriers are undergoing the prep work to combine the networks, reports PCMag‘s Sascha Segan, which includes transitioning Sprint subscribers over to the T-Mobile network and repurposing Sprint’s LTE Band 41 coverage for T-Mobile 5G.
The merger of T-Mobile and Sprint was first announced in April 2018 and was expected to close in the first half of 2019. The deal was met with some resistance by a group of state attorneys general who argued that the merger would raise prices, lessen competition, and harm jobs, and eventually the state AGs sued to block the deal but a judge rejected those arguments.
Now the merger appears to be in the home stretch, but T-Mobile and Sprint may have to wait another month or so to complete the deal as it waits for the CPUC and Judgke Kelly to make their decisions.