T-Mobile and Sprint got another win in their bid to merge. New York’s Public Service Commission has approved the deal with some conditions related to jobs and benefits provided to employees in the fourth most populated state in the country.
The companies have now received approval from 16 of the required 19 state public utilities commissions. The California Public Utilities Commission is still reviewing the proposal, but California’s Public Advocates Office, a nonpartisan publicly funded agency that advocates on behalf of California residents, strongly recommended a denial of the proposed merger.
“In evaluating the public interest relevant to this transaction, the commission finds that, on balance, after evaluating the comments received and the risks associated with the proposed transaction the transaction will advance public interest and is approved,” the commission wrote in its ruling.
The state government agency determined that the merger is “not expected to cause interruptions or changes in service for existing Sprint wireline customers.” Moreover, as condition for approval, the commission is requiring the company to continue to operate its relay call center in Syracuse and honor existing contracts until they expire.
Moreover, to offset concerns about job losses in New York, at least in the near term, the combined company has agreed that the number of employees in the state “will be at least equal to the total number of employees of Sprint and T-Mobile employees as of the closing of the merger,” and will continue for three years. The companies also agreed to provide current T-Mobile employees with the same benefits they receive today and to make equivalent benefits available to current Sprint employees.
While the commission acknowledged concerns about the merger’s potential impact on the wireless market and a reduction in MVNO competition, it concluded that competition matters are the subject of the FCC and Department of Justice. The agency also said it will track the company’s progress on 5G deployments in New York and determine if New T-Mobile delivers on its promise to provide 5G service to the “overwhelming majority” of coverage areas within three to five years of the merger closing.