Sprint, T-Mobile merger receives OK from FCC chair

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair Ajit Pai is formally recommending the approval of the $26 billion merger of T-Mobile and Sprint.

“After one of the most exhaustive merger reviews in Commission history, the evidence conclusively demonstrates that this transaction will bring fast 5G wireless service to many more Americans and help close the digital divide in rural areas,” Pai said in a statement Wednesday.

A draft order being circulated to the FCC's four commissioners explains that the merger will directly benefit consumers due to improvements in network quality and coverage, including expanding robust 5G connectivity “deep into rural areas.”

A number of conditions are attached to the deal’s approval, including the divestiture of Boost Mobile, to address concerns about competition.

As previously reported by FOX Business, the merger received approval from the Department of Justice – subject to certain conditions – at the end of last month.

T-Mobile and Sprint are the third and fourth largest wireless carriers in the country. Final approval of the deal would bring it closer to the sector's two largest carriers, Verizon and AT&T.

FILE PHOTO - Chairman Ajit Pai speaks ahead of the vote on the repeal of so called net neutrality rules at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, U.S., December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein (Reuters)

Approval of the merger has been fraught with debate since it was announced in April of last year. It would eliminate one of the nation’s major wireless carriers, generating widespread concern that approval could lead to higher wireless prices.

Officials in the Trump White House and the president himself have been on board for another reason: The new company would emerge as a major player in the development of a superfast 5G wireless network, allowing the U.S. to compete against countries like China. The Trump administration believes U.S. competitiveness in 5G is both an economic and national security priority since the technology is expected to create millions of jobs and can be used for espionage purposes.


The combined company would be called T-Mobile, and would be led by John Legere – who is the current head of T-Mobile U.S.

FOX Business' Charlie Gasparino contributed to this report.