FCC Now Accepting Complaints About T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

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The United States Federal Communications Commission is now accepting complaints and petitions against T-Mobile and Sprint's proposed merger, having disclosed it will continue doing so until August 27. Oppositions to the complaints will then be accepted from that date until September 17, whereas parties pushing against the consolidation attempt will have the chance to submit their final rebuttals with the federal regulator until October 9. The process is just the beginning of the FCC's review of the tie-up that the wireless carriers are hoping to complete in the first half of 2019, a timeframe that many industry watchers deemed extremely optimistic given the horizontal nature of the merger, i.e. the fact that the deal would reduce the competition in the stateside mobile service segment.

While the FCC already started vetting the deal on June 15, it wasn't until yesterday, July 18, that the regulator started its informal six-month review of the proposal after deeming the initial application suitable. The 180-day scrutiny period is informal in nature but generally applies to all kinds of consolidations that fall under the purview of the federal telecom agency. T-Mobile and Sprint remain adamant that the act of combining their operations would create more competition than it would remove, primarily due to its implications in the context of 5G. While the duo previously claimed they'll be capable of rolling out 5G networks on their own, they're now arguing that only combined will they be able to rival their otherwise better-funded rivals Verizon and AT&T.

Opponents of the deal claim the consolidation would kill any remaining competition in the prepaid segment, hence hurting the poorest consumers in the United States the most. Should the federal government agree with that assessment, T-Mobile and Sprint may be asked to divest some of their assets such as MetroPCS and Boost Mobile before the proposed tie-up is approved. The merger could also lower the prices in the postpaid market, at least in terms of the cost per gigabyte, some analysts believe.

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