FCC chairman circulates order of approval for Sprint, T-Mobile merger

Even Dish Network's purchase of Sprint's pre-paid assets including Boost Mobile hasn't impressed the plaintiffs- T-Mobile-Sprint and states looking to block the merger are

Even Dish Network's purchase of Sprint's pre-paid assets including Boost Mobile hasn't impressed the plaintiffs- T-Mobile-Sprint and states looking to block the merger are

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai formally expressed his support for the approval of the long-planned merger between Sprint and T-Mobile with the submission of a draft order this week.

"As we have previously stated, we have major antitrust concerns regarding the impact of the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger on consumers, competition, and the public interest", the letter says. Along with Klobuchar, the letter is signed by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). "The states Attorneys General who have sued to block the deal have not been persuaded that the remedies proposed by the FCC and the DOJ will avert harm to consumers and competition, and they should continue their litigation to block the merger".

There have been a number of public commenting cycles that considered the merger already, but these all occurred before the Justice Department worked out a deal with T-Mobile-Sprint to hand off some of its assets, like Boost Mobile, to Dish Network.

That proposed settlement is pending before U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly in the District of Columbia. So the only thing that is really holding up the deal from closing is a lawsuit filed by 15 state attorneys general and the Attorney General of Washington D.C. seeking to block the merger.

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Critics of the merger have mentioned that the opposite could happen and that the combination of the US' third and fourth-largest carriers would actually reduce competition in the marketplace, which would lead to higher prices for end-users.

"The settlement attempts to resolve the competitive concerns with the merger by promising US leadership in 5G by replacing Sprint - an established wireless carrier with a history of aggressive pricing - with that of a new carrier created out of Dish, a satellite TV company with no existing mobile network infrastructure, a bundle of spectrum assets, and multi-year service agreements with the merged company", the lawmakers write.

"Further, there is substantial execution and enforcement risk that the competition envisioned by the FCC and the DOJ will fail to materialize, leaving consumers with only three nationwide wireless providers to choose from". "The time has come for Commissioners to vote and for this proceeding to be brought to a close".

Democratic FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said she was "not convinced that removing a competitor will lead to better outcomes for consumers" in a tweet on Wednesday and said the public should be able to comment before a vote. "Too much here has been done behind closed doors".

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