CNBC is reporting that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to approve the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. While the deal had earlier received approval from the Department of Justice (DOJ), the FCC’s approval is one of the final steps needed before the merger is finalized.
The FCC’s commissioners voted along party lines to approve the deal. Chairman Ajit Pai voted with the two Republican commissioners in favor of the deal, with the two Democratic commissioners voting against.
Jessica Rosenworcel, one of the Democratic commissioners, released a statement voicing her objections.
“We’ve all seen what happens when markets become more concentrated after a merger like this one,” Rosenworcel said, using airline baggage fees and pharmaceutical drug prices as a point of comparison. “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.”
Despite the two agencies signing off on the deal, there is still substantial opposition. Nearly 20 states joined in filing a lawsuit to prevent the deal from going forward, arguing that consolidating the wireless industry around three main players will result in higher prices and less choices for consumers. T-Mobile, on the other hand, has said that combining with Sprint will give it a much better chance of competing with Verizon and AT&T, each of whom have nearly double the number of subscribers as T-Mobile. The combined company would be much closer in size, and have significantly more bandwidth to use for 5G rollout.
T-Mobile has already made substantial concessions in order to gain support for the merger, resulting in Mississippi withdrawing from the lawsuit once their concerns were met. If T-Mobile is able to continue addressing concerns, there’s a real possibility that remaining opposition may melt away in the wake of the FCC’s decision.