T-Mobile and Sprint have been talking about getting together and making 5G babies since April of last year, and with a preliminary nod from the FCC, it looks like the pair might be getting closer to approval for the merger.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai gave his approval for the merger after T-Mobile made significant promises for the growth of 5G in a post-merger world. He claims this will create a “unique opportunity to speed up the deployment of 5G throughout the United States and bring much faster mobile broadband to rural Americans,” encouraging his FCC colleagues to also approve the deal.
Of course, T-Mobile’s promise of a broad 5G rollout has to be backed up, and the FCC’s approval will come with “enforceable requirements.” For instance, SprinT-Mobile (as I’ve lovingly been calling it) will need to offer low-band 5G to 97 percent of the country, with mid-band 5G availability to 75 percent within three years. This has to be followed up with low-band 5G expanded to 99 percent of all Americans and mid-band 5G to 88 percent within six years. It will also require that 85 percent of rural America gets access to low-band 5G within three years and 90 percent after six years.
While that all sounds well and good, the merger still requires the approval of the Department of Justice. While it was initially assumed the DOJ would go along with the FCC’s ruling, a new report from Bloomberg suggests that may not be the case. According to “people familiar with the matter,” there’s still a concern that this will harm competition, giving the DOJ reason to oppose the deal.
All that said, there isn’t a whole lot of proof to back up Bloomberg’s report—maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. At the end of the day, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.