T-Mobile and Sprint’s merger approved by California Public Utilities Commission



For a long time, one of the final hurdles that T-Mobile and Sprint’s merger had before it could close was approval from the California Public Utilities Commission, the last of 19 PUCs to weigh in on the deal. Of course, we all know that T-Mo and Sprint went ahead and closed their merger without the CPUC earlier this month, but now that approval has finally come.

The CPUC today officially approved the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. The deal was approved with several conditions, such requiring T-Mobile to offer 5G speeds of at least 300Mbps to 93 percent of California’s population by the end of 2024 and to increase jobs in California by at least 1,000 compared to T-Mo and Sprint’s current employee count.

Here are all of the conditions that T-Mobile and Sprint have been ordered to meet as part of the CPUC’s approval:

  • Provide 5G wireless service with speeds of at least 100 Mbps to 99 percent of California’s population by the end of 2026, and 300 Mbps to 93 percent by the end of 2024.
  • Provide 5G wireless service with speeds of at least 100 Mbps to 85 percent of California’s rural population, and speeds of at least 50 Mbps available to 94 percent of California’s rural population, by the end of 2026.
  • Have fixed home Internet access available to at least 2.3 million California households, of which at least 123,000 are rural households, within six years.
  • Maintain or improve current 4G LTE service quality and coverage for existing customers during the transition to 5G.
  • Offer the low-income California LifeLine program for as long as it operates in California, and enroll at least 300,000 new LifeLine customers.
  • Increase jobs in California by at least 1,000 compared to the total number of current Sprint and T-Mobile employees.
  • Other important commitments relating to diversity, reporting, and rural infrastructure deployment.

Additionally, the CPUC says that within 120 days an independent monitor will be appointed to review T-Mobile’s compliance with the approval.

“A critical part of this deal is the benefits it provides for our neediest consumers, by ensuring that T-Mobile continues LifeLine service and enrolls at least 300,000 new LifeLine customers,” said CPUC Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen. “Our enforcement provisions are particularly strong and both the CPUC and the California Attorney General may enforce the CPUC’s conditions of approval.”

The CPUC issued a proposal to approve T-Mobile and Sprint’s merger one month ago and so it was expected that this official approval would come, but the CPUC said that it wouldn’t be holding an official vote on the matter until today, April 16th.

T-Mobile and Sprint went ahead and closed their merger without CPUC approval on April 1st. The CPUC said that the two companies couldn’t begin the merger of their California operations until it issued a final decision and then T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert said that he didn’t believe the CPUC had jurisdiction over the merger and that the FCC has exclusive authority to approve wireless deals.

In the end T-Mobile and Sprint got the approval they needed anyway, and while waiting for the approval didn’t stop them from closing their merger, I’m sure they’re glad to finally get the green light from the CPUC and put that situation behind them.

Source: CPUC

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  • Shaun Michalak

    It makes me wonder.. Right now, are T-Mobile customers getting better or worse service?? I have read comments about people saying that T-Mobile customers are connecting to which ever tower they have the best signal on.. One person said that Sprint had the better signal, but when the phone automatically connected to it, the Sprint tower was so overwhelmed due to lack of bandwidth, that their data went to nothing because of it.. With that being said, in places where there is no tower for T-Mobile, that would make things better.. But with areas that have both, it would seem it would be worse.. Overall, it makes me wonder if, right now, T-Mobile customers are getting better or worse overall service?? or is there going to be little to no change for most people?

    I personally think the latter until T-Mobile gets the towers set up and finalized, at which time I think things will get much better..

    • Bill K

      Sprint runs CDMA and TMobile runs GSM and it’s not currently possible to connect to the other service. If you are a Sprint customer you roam on Verizon (or other CDMA signal) and T-Mobile roams in AT&T. Nothing of what you are saying is currently possible but it will be interesting to see how they combine the services. That was the big challenge of the Sprint Nextel merger which did not end up well.

      • MisterListerSir

        CDMA has nothing to do with LTE data…

        • Bill K

          My mistake. He was referring to data. Sprint can connect to the T-Mobile network. Does that work the other way as well?

        • SparklingCyanide

          Either way the spectrum from Sprint is going to be repurposed and re-farmed for GSM compatibility, both networks will become one in the future.

        • Shaun Michalak

          That would not be accurate.. anything older then 4G, which GSM is 3G, is going to be shut down.. Not repurposed for GSM.. All companies are pretty much going to be shutting down 3G and older tech within the next year, or sooner, to re-purpose that bandwidth for 4 and 5G use.. It would be stupid of them to put the extra work in there to re-purpose it for anything that is being shut down..

        • SparklingCyanide

          what do you think repurposed means……. shut down, and reconfigured for new use. think before you post, Shaun :3

        • marque2

          Shaun is right, on a technical LTE is an offshoot of the GSM technology, but GSM usually refers to 2g and 3g networks. 2g is out everywhere by the end of this year. 3g is out, except Tmobile has indicated 3g used for HSPA+ will be maintained a bit longer.

          The bandwidths you refer to will be repurposed to LTE and 5g – not GSM 2g, 3g, or HSPA.

        • Shaun Michalak

          I would have to agree with you.. The only exception is the fact that they are not installing anything older then LTE on any of their newer towers (towers put up in the past 5?? years), and the fact that most of their towers are newer towers, so that really does not leave much coverage worth noting of HSPA service.. So even if it is left up, there is only going to be a very limited amount of coverage to start off with.

        • Shaun Michalak

          “Either way the spectrum from Sprint is going to be repurposed and re-farmed for GSM compatibility,”

          “what do you think repurposed means……. shut down, and reconfigured for new use.”

          As you said, maybe you should “think before you post”.. Because as I stated, your comment does not say re-purpose for “newer” tech, you clearly stated taking Sprints 3G CDMA service and repurposed it for T-Mobiles 3G GSM service.. which is exactly where my comment of “no they will not” comes in, since your re-purpose is saying to change it to something that is being shut down, and my comment says to change it to something that is “not” being shut down..

          So yea, I think I did think it through pretty well, and I still think my comment stays valid since your comment implies for them to change it to something that will no longer be in service..

        • MisterListerSir

          No problem, lots of folks confuse that. Depends on the bands in question and the phone compatibility. It varies greatly by device and area.

        • marque2

          If your phone supports it. Tmobile phones do not fully support Sprint bands, while Sprint phones for the most part do support Tmobile. You can get a universal phone, something like the new Pixel, which will support both 100%.

          Band 2 and band 25 have overlap, so technically Tmobile phones can use part of Sprint band 25.

        • marque2

          LTE which all carriers implement now is actually an evolution of GSM anyway.

      • marque2

        Sprint has been deemphasizimg CDMA for years, andmost of their calls go over LTE and most of their phones support all TMobile LTE bands. TMobile phones do not support all Sprint bands for the most part, but there is a tad of overlap. So in all probability there will be almost no struggle.

        I am sure TMobile will deactivate the CDMA channels over time much like they are deactivating 2g, 3g anyway.

        • Shaun Michalak

          GSM and CDMA are both 3G technologies.. and all companies are supposed to have their 3G and older towers shut down within the next year, or sooner, anyways.. so this whole GSM and CDMA that bill is talking about is all moog point since most, if not just about all towers are 4G LTE towers now days, and there is no difference between any of the companies when it comes to LTE coverage or phones..

          As for the phones.. It all depends on the phones.. Some phones already support Sprint bands, and some do not.. A lot of it depends on how old the phone is.. I have an Aristo 3, and a Stylo 4, and both are Metro phones, both are at least an year old, and both support Sprints bands..

        • marque2

          Most everyone has committed to stopping 2g GSM/CDMA by the end of this year. I don’t know about 3g schedules, but I believe Tmobile will keep HDMA+ (technically a 3g technology) for a few more years.

        • Shaun Michalak

          Here is a quote from an article..There is one exception.. Verizon changed the shut down time to 2020 instead of 2019.. Also, US Cellular has already shut its 3G and older service down already..

          Verizon no longer accepted new 2G or 3G activations after June 2018 and will shut down its 2G/3G network entirely by December 2019.

          AT&T shut down its 2G network in 2016. AT&T will close its 3G network in early 2022.

          Sprint has not made a public statement but is anticipated to shut its 3G network down in 2020-2021.

          T-Mobile also has not made a public statement but is similarly anticipated to shut its 3G network down in 2020-2021.

    • kanakamaoli

      As of April 1st I believe T-Moblie has deployed some of Sprints AwS band 25(1900mhz) spectrum and added it to their own Band 2(1900mhz).
      Before i was getting 15Mhz of band 2.Now it is 15mhz+20mhz=35mhz via carrier aggregation.speeds went from around 40-60MB download to about 200MB download.My phone and the tablet i use my mobile hotspot to are much more responsive now

      • David E

        I have not seen an improvement over service since moving back to Cali and extra/shared bandwidth.. still good service just nothing crazy like speeds!

      • Shaun Michalak

        If they are, which I doubt right now, it would only be in places where there is no Sprint tower in the area.. Otherwise it would double up with the Sprint towers, which would cause problems since T-Mobile is basically joining the Sprint network on with theirs, by proxy. Before T-Mobile brings the Sprint network over to their own, they want to upgrade the towers, that they are going to keep, so that it is standardized, with the same brand and type of equipment, because right now, Sprint has many vendors for their hardware, and there is not too much that is standardized on their network because of it.

        • marque2

          Tmobile uses band 2 which is a subset of Sprint band 25. If there were trouble using these overlapping bands, it would have already happened.

        • Shaun Michalak

          First, let me say thanks for the good laugh.. I thought it was kind of funny you up-voting your own comment.. lol

          But you are correct.. Band 2 is a subset of band 25.. the difference between the 2 is the band gap between the 2.. One uses a 20mhz and the other uses 15mhz.. that and band 25 uses an extra 5mhz of spectrum.. I was talking more along the lines of with Sprint connecting to the T-Mobile network more through a proxy, then it just being added straight to their network, I do not know if that would cause problems.. Not to mention, is the T-Mobile network set up to use 15mhz blocks, instead of just band 2 20mhz blocks?? I am not really sure about these 2 things.. I doubt the 15 and 20 mhz blocks would be anything, but I am not so sure about the proxy use..

          I guess it makes me wonder if this, being by proxy with the 2 networks, if it may cause dropped calls and stuff??

        • marque2

          Phones that support band 25 also support 2. Also there is a way to set up towers to support 25/2 simultaneously.

          Apparently TMobile is allowing Sprint to roam on TMobile but not vis versa.

          Hey if I don’t like my own comments Noone will.

    • marque2

      I was trying to figure this out yesterday from TMobile announcements. Apparently they are allowing Sprint customers to roam TMobile – but (though they are being coy about it) I don’t think TMobile can roam on Sprint. Makes sense because TMobile customers could overwhelm Sprint.

  • Jay Holm

    A whole year later than it should have been!!!!!!! Congratulations California on getting out of bed!!!

  • David E

    Damn,Finally… I live in Cali…

  • Timbo1

    About time Commiefornia!

  • Mike Thaler

    Is TM committed to comply w. ALL those demands? Many of them are ridiculous.

  • vrm

    “Here are all of the conditions that T-Mobile and Sprint have been ordered to meet as part of the CPUC’s approval:”

    What if those conditions are NOT met and the companies have already merged ? How can this little agency order someone like that ? They should have negotiated in good faith sooner when the others were negotiating.

    Their orders will never hold up in court, IMO.

    • Deadeye37

      Sounds like the the California Attorney General can help enforce this if needs be. We’ll see if that actually happens and if it holds up.

      • vrm

        enforce WHAT ? They have no contract with t-mobile; they are unilaterally ordering an entity to do its bidding. What they seek to enforce is not law and not part of a contract, AFAIK. If it WAS part of contract, then I stand corrected but the fact that they delayed the “approval” after everything was done, including the anti-trust judge indicates otherwise- that CA PUC didn’t negotiate with t-mobile.

  • Trevnerdio

    300mbps to 93% of California by the end of 2024? Hahahaha
    Oh….oh, you were serious?

  • No

    Who gives a sh** what CPUC thinks? The merger is done. If they don’t like it, leave ’em in the dust. This is just another case of the sad state of California thinking they’re better or more informed than everybody else.

    • You don’t really understand how this works, do you?

      • marque2

        There is serious question whether Tmobile falls under the domain of the CPUC. I am sure Tmobile doesn’t want to make a federal case over it so, as long as the irequirements are not too draconian they will go along, but in reality Tmobile is a nationwide company and does not provide state sanctioned monopoly utilities like Power, or gas, or cable to the home. It is entirely an FCC operation.

        • No

          Sadly, this is only a few court decisions away, and we all know how skilled California is at legislating from the bench.

      • No

        Oh I know very well how the state of California works (or more appropriately, doesn’t work), thank you very much. They’re a bureaucratic nightmare that’s
        drowning in debt and homelessness. They pay the health care bills of illegal non-citizens and give them in-state tuition, all while making tax-paying citizens foot the bill as they’re constitutional rights are infringed upon daily. There’s about 40 states across the nation that laugh at how upside-down the state of California is. The rest of them are stupid enough to emulate this socialist haven in some fashion or another.

        By “leave ’em in the dust”, I meant leave the entire state of California in the dust, not just one, select dipstick institution.

  • RLB63

    So they are to add 1,000 employees. That’s after they will have to shut down some stores because they are just to close together.

    So, which state loses employees to open positions in California?

  • David

    the highest I have seen is 93D/L and 35U/L that is in the middle of the night or early am before gets on network.. Besides that i get 10-20 if i am lucky, When i lived in Reno 5G no problem and speeds were pretty good with upload of 50-60!

  • JG

    Off topic, but now that they’ve gotten all of the major players to sign off on the merger… Any word on what’s up with the new UnCarrier move T-Mo announced back in February? The one that was supposed to come some time that quarter (the quarter that ended some 18 days ago)…

    Granted, the lock down probably delayed them some. But they’ve been able to make other big announcements – like that the merger is complete. I’m sure they could find a way to release news about New T-Mobile’s second UnCarrier event… A blog post, a YouTube video or something.