Mobile & Sprint Reportedly Reach Deal With US Regulators to Merge

A sign for a T Mobile store is seen in Manhattan New York

In light of the carriers agreeing to a set of new conditions around 5G buildout milestones, rollout of an in-home broadband product, and a divestiture in Boost Mobile, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has signaled that he plans to recommend the agency's approval of the merger.

Pai said T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. would suffer "serious consequences" if they don't meet their FCC commitments, including the possibility of having to pay billions to the Treasury Department. Lyft, Uber, Snapchat, Tinder, Venmo, Square, Instagram...these are companies that simply do not exist without 4G.

Pai will recommend that his colleagues approve the merger in the coming weeks. FCC officials said the agency is structuring the divestiture to ensure Boost can meaningfully compete with T-Mobile in the low-priced wireless space. But according to Pai, "T-Mobile and Sprint have guaranteed that 90 percent of Americans would have access to mobile broadband service at speeds of at least 100Mbps and 99 percent would have access to speeds of at least 50Mbps".

The sale of Boost is aimed at resolving concerns that the deal would give the combined company 54% of the prepaid market, which generally includes those with poor credit who can not pay with a credit card. "By endorsing the T-Mobile deal, and T-Mobile's commitment to rural broadband, you're creating another competitor there where there is none today".

The Justice Department must also approve the deal. The new T-Mobile will offer "the same or better rate plans at the same or better prices for three years", including 5G. Commissioner Brendan Carr, a Republican, said on Monday he would vote in favor.

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The milestones will be verified by drive testing, not coverage maps, which will be funded by T-Mobile with oversight by an FCC-approved third party. So the two companies on Monday announced that they would spin off Sprint's largest prepaid brand, Boost Mobile, as a separate company that would compete against the newly-merged carrier.

Boost is a reseller, so it will have to rely on access to the merged company's network, whereas now it resells Sprint service.

In his full statement, Pai said the companies had made a series of committments, including deploying a 5G internet network that would cover 99 percent of the country within six years.

Pai said Monday that the combination will help bring faster mobile broadband to rural Americans.

For the past four years, T-Mobile and Sprint have been trying to merge together.

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FCC Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel disagreed. "It hasn't worked out well for consumers".

In a blog, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said that the new company, called the New T-Mobile, will "cover 97% of the USA population with 5G on low-band spectrum and 75% of the population with 5G on mid-band spectrum" in three years, with an additional focus on using 5G to provide an alternative to traditional home broadband. "But now the FCC wants to bless the same kind of consolidation for wireless carriers".

T-Mobile has about 80 million customers and Sprint about 55 million customers.

We asked O'Rielly's office about his plans for the T-Mobile/Sprint merger, and will update this article if we get a response.

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