Chairman of USA telecoms regulator backs T-Mobile, Sprint merger

Darnell Taylor
May 20, 2019

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai plans to back wireless carrier T-Mobile's $26.5 billion takeover of rival Sprint, a crucial step for the deal's approval. According to reports these changes are apart of a deal to get approval for their merger according to CNBC.

Now, with T-Mobile the most innovative and fastest growing of the four major USA wireless operators, it no longer needs a merger to survive.

CFF's Chairman also announced that he is recommending approving the T-Mobile/Spring merger. Now, more than any time previously, it looks like the T-Mobile Sprint merger could actually happen.

Sprint has pushed hard for a combination with T-Mobile, citing deep concerns about being able to continue on as a standalone company given years of losses and withering competition in the wireless business.

In a blog, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said that the new company, called the New T-Mobile, will "cover 97% of the USA population with 5G on low-band spectrum and 75% of the population with 5G on mid-band spectrum" in three years, with an additional focus on using 5G to provide an alternative to traditional home broadband. He added that the merger with Sprint will allow its 5G network to have eight times the capacity by 2024 than what would be possible if Sprint and T-Mobile would remain as stand-alone carriers.

In another new commitment, the combined T-Mobile/Sprint pledged to roll out an in-home 5G broadband product including to rural households.

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T-Mobile and Sprint also "offered specific commitments regarding the rollout of an in-home broadband product, including to rural households", Pai said. "Does anyone really believe that this FCC, which has asked nothing of the big mobile companies for over two years, will require the companies to abide by these commitments?" According to a statement released on May 20, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will recommend that the merger between the two US carriers is approved.

In a filing with the FCC on Monday, the companies pledged to sell Boost Mobile, a prepaid wireless provider.

T-Mobile and Sprint will have to deliver on the speed promise within six years, FCC officials told reporters.

Finally, T-Mobile has reitereated its commitment to pricing post-merger. In addition, T-Mobile says it will commit to offering in-home wireless broadband internet service to 9.6 million households in three years, and that number includes 2.6 million rural households.

"T-Mobile and Sprint have promised that their network would cover at least two-thirds of our nation's rural population with high-speed, mid-band 5G", Pai said.

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. "We've seen this kind of consolidation in airlines and with drug companies. It hasn't worked out well for consumers", Comissioner Rosenworcel tweeted today. "I have serious doubts".

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