The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted 3-2 to approve T-Mobile US’s acquisition of Sprint, Bloomberg reports, with the commissioners voting along party lines. Republican commissioners Brendan Carr and Michael O’Rielly backed Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to allow the merger, while Democrats Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks voted against it.
While the FCC has not yet publicly released its merger approval order, on 16 October both Rosenworcel and Starks issued statements criticising the merger. Ms Rosenworcel said of the tie-up: ‘We’ve all seen what happens when markets become more concentrated after a merger like this one. In the airline industry, it brought us baggage fees and smaller seats. In the pharmaceutical industry, it led to a handful of drug companies raising the prices of lifesaving medications. There’s no reason to think this time will be different. Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that the T-Mobile-Sprint merger will reduce competition, raise prices, lower quality, and slow innovation.’
In July 2019 satellite TV giant DISH Network agreed to acquire Sprint’s nationwide portfolio of 800MHz spectrum, as well as its pre-paid mobile businesses, including Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile – easing antitrust concerns and paving the way for the long-running USD26 billion merger to earn Department of Justice (DoJ) approval. However, the two telcos are still contending with a lawsuit from a group of state attorneys general who are determined to block the deal.