FCC Chairman is Cool With T-Mobile-Sprint Merger

FCC chairman backs T-Mobile-Sprint deal in key endorsement	 	 	 			Image CNN

FCC chairman backs T-Mobile-Sprint deal in key endorsement Image CNN

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is recommending approval for T-Mobile and Sprint's merger.

The concessions appeared to help tilt Pai and another FCC commissioner toward favoring the deal.

T-Mobile and Sprint are on the brink of clearing one of the two major regulatory hurdles to their blockbuster telecommunications merger.

Winning Pai's support required Sprint and T-Mobile to modify some of the terms of the deal to address concerns about 5G deployment and rural coverage, which the two companies spelled out in a letter to the FCC.

Pai said in his statement that they included "deploying a 5G network that would cover 97 per cent of our nation's population within three years of the closing of the merger and 99 per cent of Americans within six years". But to get Pai's approval, T-Mobile and Sprint had to make some commitments about future service that's certain to impact wireless customers.T-Mobile and Sprint officials unveil merger plans in 2018. Democratic lawmakers have also been skeptical of the companies' promises.

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On T-Mobile's website pushing for the merger they say: "It is absolutely imperative that the USA extends the global innovation, technology and economic leadership it seized during the 4G era". The combined company would commit to an even more aggressive rollout. "Failure to meet New T-Mobile obligations will trigger severe, increasing, and continuing voluntary contributions that will make failure prohibitively expensive and incentivize New T-Mobile to meet its commitments", the companies said.

Pai said discussions with the companies resulted in specific commitments to improve 5G networks - and if they do not live up to these commitments, they could be fined billions of dollars.

But consumer advocates said the conditions aren't enough to offset the merger's harms. "So a meaningless and unenforceable promise to just tread water where we are now is a sad joke, and nothing more". The merger would combine third-largest T-Mobile with fourth-largest Sprint in competition with the two biggest providers, Verizon and AT&T.

The companies have made promises on building out 5G and expanding rural broadband before, but now they are attaching timelines and agreeing to penalties if they fail to meet their commitments. When companies as big as T-Mobile ...

The merger would reduce competition by lowering the number of nationwide wireless carriers from four to three.

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T-Mobile and Sprint have additionally made a decision to divest Boost Mobile in a bid to address potential competitive issues in the prepaid wireless segment. "Still waiting on that investigation of T-Mobile & others for selling geo-location info to brokers". If the deal goes through, it has been said that Overland Park would remain a secondary headquarters for the new T-Mobile company.

"This sale is created to address potential competitive issues that have been identified in the prepaid wireless segment", Pai said.

A sign for a T-Mobile store is seen in Manhattan, New York, U.S., April 30, 2018. FCC officials said they believed that it could be easily and quickly upgraded to 2.5 GHz 5G.

T-Mobile claims in six years' time, 90 percent of the USA population will be able to get download speeds of at least 100Mbps on its network, and 99 percent will experience download speeds of at least 50Mbps. Minimal download speeds for this service will be 25Mbps, with 3Mbps for upload speeds. Sprint plans to turn on the faster wireless service in four cities this month, while T-Mobile's 5G efforts are likely to begin in earnest during the second half of 2019. The speed gains will come largely from mid-band spectrum.

Later on Monday, fellow FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr signaled his support for the deal.

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Pai said Monday that the combination will help bring faster mobile broadband to rural Americans. "It hasn't worked out well for consumers". "But now the FCC wants to bless the same kind of consolidation for wireless carriers".

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