Sprint and T-Mobile have been pushing regulators to approve their proposed merger for a year, and it looks like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is falling in line. Commissioner Brendan Carr and chairman Ajit Pai have both signaled their support on Twitter. That just leaves the Justice Department standing in the way of T-Mobile gobbling up Sprint and all its yummy spectrum.
In light of the significant commitments made by @TMobile and @Sprint as well as the facts in the record to date, I believe that this transaction is in the public interest and intend to recommend to my colleagues that the @FCC approve it. My full statement: https://t.co/GPQFoPnSC8
— Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) May 20, 2019
Ajit Pai, now infamous for his successful repeal of net neutrality, says that the merger is in the public interest. In a full statement linked on Twitter, Pai says that the combined company will be better able to build a competitive 5G network. Pai will recommend to the other FCC commissioners that they approve the merger. Fellow Republican Brendan Carr is already publicly on board, too. Like Pai, Carr says the new T-Mobile will be able to accelerate 5G deployment and aid rural communities.
After a year long review, I announced today that I support the combination of T-Mobile & Sprint.
The record that’s developed is clear: it will enable Americans across the country to see more competition and an accelerated buildout of fast, 5G service, including in rural America. pic.twitter.com/wY4SJ5R5nk
— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) May 20, 2019
The FCC consists of three Republican commissioners and two Democratic. Michael O'Rielly, the third Republican, will no doubt fall in line. That gives the merger enough votes to pass. With that hurdle out of the way, T-Mobile and Sprint can focus on the DOJ, which has reportedly expressed apprehension about the current deal.
DOJ remains skeptical
Following up on a previous report, Bloomberg now says that the Department of Justice is still leaning toward blocking the T-Mobile-Sprint merger. Apparently, concessions proposed by the carriers were not enough to satisfy the department's antitrust investigators. We don't know what this means for the merger just yet. The carriers could find a way to push the deal through, but it's not looking like a sure thing anymore.