T-Mobile-Sprint merger expected to get 'green light' from DOJ, ex-FCC commissioner says

The Department of Justice is expected to "green light" the T-Mobile-Sprint merger, T-Mobile's regulatory counsel said Monday.

Robert McDowell, T-Mobile's outside counsel and former commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, said exclusively on Fox Business that he was confident the $26 billion deal would move forward with federal approval.

"The DOJ will give this a green light," McDowell said.

McDowell noted the backing of FCC chairman Ajit Pai, who put "the full weight of his support behind this deal with the conditions that were really written by all the parties involved." Likewise, McDowell pointed to a number of "remedies" the FCC has done for this deal.

"What the FCC has done is both what we call 'behavioral remedies' and 'structural remedies.' So the structural remedy is divesting in Boost, the prepaid business of Sprint," McDowell said. "Makan Delrahim (the assistant attorney general for the DOJ's Antitrust Division) has said he likes the DOJ to engage in structural remedies but not behavioral -- these are pricing conditions and things like that."

"The FCC has done the heavy lifting for them in that regard. Plus there are the price controls, rural buildout, 5G buildout overall and also, an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) deal for Altice to help strengthen cable as a wireless competitor."

McDowell said, from an antitrust standpoint, he viewed the market as going from two major competitors to three, rather than being reduced from four major players.

"It's really from two to three," he said "You have two healthy vibrant national carriers -- Verizon, AT&T -- now you're going to clean up a balance sheet and, exactly, have a third competitor to them who will be able to front-load capital expenditures for 5G, buildout and we are going to win the race to 5G."


McDowell said, the final decision on the merger will rest with Delrahim.

"At the end of the day, it's his call," McDowell said. "They are making that decision. It's their decision at the end of the day."

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