FCC Pauses Massive T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

T Mobile Sprint Merger Credit: Richard Drew/AP Images
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The Federal Communications Commission told Sprint-T-Mobile on Tuesday that it needs more time to review the proposed merger of the two telecom firms.

The FCC has pressed pause on an “informal” 180-day transaction clock so staff and third-parties have enough time to thoroughly review the material, the agency said in a letter to T-Mobile and Sprint.

Back in June, T-Mobile and Sprint officially filed their merger plans with the FCC. But after about 55 days into the process, the Commission has outlined a few reasons why it needs more time to review the merger.

  • T-Mobile and Sprint have “extended” a network engineering model that was originally submitted as a backup plan. Essentially, because it is larger and more complex, the FCC needs more time to review it.
  • A business model detailing how the combined firm would provide “financial basis for the projected new network buildup” wasn’t submitted until Sept. 5.
  • The FCC is also awaiting the submission of “additional economic modeling” supporting the merger from T-Mobile.

It hasn’t been the smoothest road for the proposed T-Mobile and Sprint merger. After calling off and resuming talks multiple times, the company finally agreed to a merger in April to cut costs and help foster the development of a next-generation 5G network.

T-Mobile and Sprint are currently the third and fourth largest telecom firms in the U.S. A merger of the two would obviously mean even further consolidation of the telecom market, which might spark pushback from U.S. antitrust regulators. During the Obama administrations, officials opposed a similar T-Mobile-Sprint merger.

But both companies maintain that their merger will be good for them and consumers. T-Mobile and Sprint have created a website to tout the supposed benefits of the merger. The two firms also issued a Public Interest Statement to the FCC in June that painted the merger as a purely positive move.

It isn’t clear when the FCC will make a decision. Before the delay, a decision could have been rendered this year. But with the FCC’s pause, it’s likely that the review process will take until at least sometime next year to wrap up.

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