Sprint/T-Mobile merger proposal gets official at the FCC

Stack of documents
The FCC has opened the Sprint and T-Mobile merger to commentary. (Pixabay)

Sprint and T-Mobile will file documents with the FCC Monday that will essentially open the transaction for commentary from the public and set the stage for the agency to issue a red or green light on the merger.

The FCC’s new 18-197 docket stands as the official home for documents relating to the proposed transaction. “On June 14, 2018, T-Mobile and Sprint informed the Commission that on June 18, 2018, they plan on filing applications seeking Commission approval to transfer control to T-Mobile of the licenses and authorizations held by Sprint and its wholly-owned and controlled subsidiaries,” the FCC wrote (PDF). “The purpose of this public notice is to announce the opening of a docket, WT Docket No. 18-197, and articulate the ex parte status of discussions related to the proposed transaction.”

In a separate filing, the FCC granted (PDF) the companies’ request to withhold “competitively sensitive information” from the proceeding, a common request in such procedures.

Mobile World Congress 2019

Attend the 2-Day Executive 5G Panel Series

FierceWireless is returning to Barcelona, Spain, during Mobile World Congress 2019 with a two-day Executive 5G Panel Series at the Fira Congress Hotel, conveniently located across the street from the MWC Convention Center. The panel events will take place on Feb. 25-26 and will cover 5G and The Fixed Wireless Access Opportunity, Taking 5G Indoors, and Making 5G Ubiquitous. Attendees will have the opportunity to network and hear from 5G leaders including Verizon, Vodafone, Orange, Sprint, NTT Docomo, Boingo Wireless, Qualcomm, and more over the course of two days.

Secure your spot at the event today! Now is your chance to join fellow industry professionals for networking and education. Registration information and the schedule can be found on the website here.

The filing is not a surprise; Reuters on Friday reported that Sprint and T-Mobile would be formally filing their merger application with the FCC Monday.

Although Wall Street analysts haven’t given Sprint and T-Mobile very good odds to get their proposed merger approved, news last week that AT&T was successful in completing its acquisition of Time Warner may change that calculus. Indeed, AT&T's wireless network was central to the arguments that ultimately convinced Judge Richard Leon to rule in favor of AT&T and Time Warner. AT&T told the court that the future of video is wireless and the future of wireless is video.

RELATED: Sprint and T-Mobile to merge: Complete coverage

For Sprint and T-Mobile, the companies have positioned their own merger argument on two pillars: 5G and jobs. The companies said a merger between the two companies would create a 5G powerhouse that could help the United States deploy 5G technology more effectively, thereby allowing the country to counter the rise of 5G heavyweight China.

And Sprint and T-Mobile executives have also argued that a merged company would actually employ more Americans than the two companies separately would.

Both of those arguments dovetail with priorities espoused by the Trump administration.

However, the Sprint and T-Mobile merger has received criticism from public interest groups and others. Most recently, the National Wireless Independent Dealer Association argued the transaction would stand as a “devastating blow” to prepaid customers, MVNOs and wireless dealers.