FCC pauses review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger

Gerald Bowen
September 15, 2018

"Considering the complexity and potential importance of these newly-provided and expected models, it is appropriate to stop the informal 180-day clock to allow time for their review", writes David Lawrence, the director of the T-Mobile / Sprint Transaction Task Force, and Donald Stockdale, the chief of Wireless Telecommunication Bureau. First, on September 5, 2018, the Applicants submitted a substantially revised network engineering model.

"The clock will remain stopped until the applicants have completed the record on which they intend to rely and a reasonable period of time has passed for staff and third-party review", the FCC letter stated.

A smartphones with Sprint logo are seen in front of a screen projection of T-mobile logo, in this picture illustration taken April 30, 2018.

T-Mobile and Sprint - a subsidiary of Japan's SoftBank - are at present the third and fourth largest United States wireless operators, respectively. The only stated reason is the submission of new material from TMUS that significantly alters the criteria by which the FCC will make its assessment, thus requiring more time.

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The commission told the carriers' counsel that it had received papers and guidance primarily from T-Mobile within the past two weeks that marked departures from previous statements regarding network engineering models and network buildout funding.

The agency said it would also need time to review additional economic modeling that T-Mobile said it would submit.

Both T-Mobile and Sprint have been takeover targets by other telecom providers in recent years, but government regulators have resisted the deals that would have reduced the "big four" wireless companies to a big three. "We are confident that this transaction is pro-competitive, good for the country and good for American consumers", the company said. Similarly, a business model titled "Build 9" that was also submitted September 5 needs further review, the FCC said.

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