November 6 (UPI) — The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday approved a merger proposal by T-Mobile and Sprint, the two largest U.S. carriers, saying the deal would “promote competition” and speed up the deployment of 5G networks, foreign media reported. Some opponents say the merger is counterintuitive and that the US mobile industry will have a “big three” that will “divide the market, raise prices and compete only for the most profitable customers”.
The FCC said in a statement that the deal would bridge the digital divide and promote the deployment of 5G networks in the United States. T-Mobile and Sprint have pledged to deploy 5G services over the next three years, covering 97 percent of Americans. They also promise to provide 90 percent of Americans with mobile services with speeds of at least 100 megabits per second within six years. The FCC’s approval is conditional on those commitments, which could result in a $2 billion fine if the two companies fail to meet those goals.
In addition, as another condition for the FCC to approve the deal, Sprint must sell its prepaid mobile wireless service, Boost Mobile, and T-Mobile must sell its stake in Dish Network, a U.S. satellite broadcasting service provider. The FCC wants Dish Network, Boost Mobile and several other companies to join forces to form a new wireless network company to compete with previous companies.
According to the FCC’s statement, the merger will not hurt competition — although several u.S. attorneys general and several FCC commissioners disagree. “Despite the promises of their merger, some Americans will gain some form of access to the company,” FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said in a statement. 5G’ capabilities, but history tells us that the most likely impact of this merger is that all Americans will face higher prices and fewer choices. “
But it’s no surprise that the FCC formally approved the merger today. The merger had previously been approved by the U.S. Department of Justice. This summer, Ajit Pai, the FCC’s chairman, backed it. Last month, the FCC voted on the deal. Typically, the merger will be completed soon with the approval of the U.S. Department of Justice and the FCC. However, lawsuits filed by state attorneys general in the United States could still prevent or delay the merger.
For years, T-Mobile and Sprint have been trying to merge, claiming to compete with two other larger carriers, AT?amp;T and Verizon.
Previous attempts to merge between the two companies have been more or less thwarted on the grounds that while the merger could make the new entity more competitive, it would be a net negative impact on consumers and their options would be fewer than ever. The move comes after the Federal Trade Commission issued a statement saying a $60 million settlement for anti-consumer business practices by AT?amp;T was a powerful reminder to mobile operators. (Liu Chun)