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FCC formally approves T-Mobile-Sprint merger, but one more hurdle remains
Today, the FCC voted 3-2 in favor of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger (via The Verge). The two dissenting votes were from the Democrat members of the FCC while the other three were from the two Republican members as well as FCC chairman Ajit Pai.
With the FCC now officially on board for the merger — and the FTC also officially on board — the deal only faces one last hurdle: the multi-state lawsuit filed by various Attorneys General in an effort to block the deal.
Still, the two government agencies are the most important pieces of approval T-Mobile needs. With both the FCC and FTC on board now, the lawsuits against the merger aren’t nearly as strong. Yes, the lawsuits could throw a wrench in the plans, but it’s very likely that won’t happen and the deal will close.
To its credit, T-Mobile said that it will not move forward with the T-Mobile-Sprint deal until the lawsuits are handled.
The two Democrats who opposed the merger have different reasons for doing so. Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel laid out her opinion in an op-ed for The Atlantic, which basically boils down to fears that fewer competitive players in the wireless industry will inevitably lead to less competition and thus higher prices and poorer service.
The other Democrat, Geoffrey Starks, is concerned about an on-going investigation into Sprint for allegedly misappropriating Lifeline funds. Starks says the merger should be paused until that investigation is complete. However, with the FCC vote complete that investigation won’t matter as far as the merger is concerned.
At this point, it’s looking very likely that the T-Mobile-Sprint merger will happen — it’s just a matter of when.