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.