Ajit Pai oks T-Mobile/Sprint merger, “requires” 5G rollout that’ll happen anyway


Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai with his oversized coffee mug in November 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

T-Mobile and Sprint are one big step closer to getting the US government’s approval to merge, as Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai today announced his support for the deal combining two of the four largest US mobile carriers.

Pai’s announcement virtually guarantees that the FCC will approve the deal; FCC approval would be finalized after the Republican-controlled commission votes. But T-Mobile and Sprint still need to convince the Department of Justice, which hasn’t yet said whether it will sue to block the merger on antitrust grounds.

Pai’s statement on the merger said he’s approving it in large part because T-Mobile and Sprint “committed to deploying a 5G network that would cover 97 percent of our nation’s population within three years of the closing of the merger and 99 percent of Americans within six years.” They also committed to deploying 5G to 85 percent of rural Americans within three years and 90 percent within six years.

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