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The FCC has officially approved the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint

The Federal Communications Commission has officially approved the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. A few weeks ago, the FCC voted to approve the deal, but now it has released its official approval order and statements on the merger.

In the statements released by the FCC, the Commission made it clear that the approval was largely in an effort to create stronger 5G networks in the U.S. T-Mobile and Sprint have long argued that a merger would speed up the rollout of 5G, and it seems like the FCC agrees. The vote was approved 3-2, with the three Republican members voting in favor and two Democrats opposed.

“As we emerge into a 5G environment, this transaction would ensure a strong third competitor with the resources necessary to develop spectrum and infrastructure assets needed for a robust nationwide 5G network,” FCC chairman Ajit Pai wrote in the statements. “So let’s be clear: A vote against this transaction is a vote against the creation of a strong 5G competitor.”

The Department of Justice approved the merger in July, as long as the carriers agreed to cede a portion of Sprint’s spectrum to Dish Network for the creation of a new fourth competitor.

While T-Mobile and Sprint have cleared many of the hurdles required for the merger to go through, they still face other challenges. Namely, the two companies have been sued by a coalition of states’ attorneys who are attempting to block the deal. T-Mobile and Sprint had said that the merger won’t close until that lawsuit is resolved. Recently, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood left the state coalition, but 17 states still remain.

Of course, not all FCC members were in favor of approving the merger. Democratic commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel wrote an op-ed in the Atlantic a few weeks ago, noting her disapproval.

“A condensed pharmaceutical industry has led to a handful of drug companies raising the prices of lifesaving medications, taking advantage of those struggling with illness,” she said in the article. “There’s no reason to think the mobile phone industry will be different. Shrinking the number of national providers from four to three will hurt consumers, harm competition, and eliminate thousands of jobs.”

We’ll have to wait and see exactly how long the merger takes, but with FCC and DOJ approval, the companies are closer than ever.

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