The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has finally granted approval for the merger of wireless carriers T-Mobile and Sprint. Earlier this month, the CPUC had issued a proposal to approve the merger with conditions. The two companies have agreed to abide by those conditions.
After a prolonged legal battle with state attorneys general (AG), T-Mobile and Sprint finally completed their merger on April 1. The AGs were of the opinion that the merger would mean higher prices for consumers.
However, the $23-billion deal, originally valued at $26 billion, went ahead without the California regulator's vote. Now that approval has come as well, clearing the way for the two wireless carriers to merge their operations in the nation's most populous state.
The CPUC says that "the anti-competitive effects of the merger outweighed its potential benefits" in the state of California. However, those potential adverse effects are mitigated by the conditions it has placed in front of the new company.
T-Mobile and Sprint merger approved by CPUC
The CPUC on Thursday unanimously voted to approve the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. The deal was approved with several conditions, though.
The new T-Mobile will have to provide 5G connectivity to 93 percent of California's population by the end of 2024, with at least 300Mbps speed.
The coverage should extend to 99 percent of the state's population by the end of 2024. The company will have to offer a minimum speed of 100Mbps throughout the state.
For rural areas, the California regulators have ordered the company to cover 85 percent of the rural population with 5G connectivity by 2024, while offering a minimum speed of 100Mbps. Furthermore, the company will have to offer at least 50Mbps speed to 94 percent of the rural population by 2026.
The new T-Mobile will also have to offer fixed home internet to at least 2.3 million households in California within six years.
A minimum of 123,000 households should be from rural localities. The company also needs to maintain or improve current 4G LTE service quality while it makes the transition to 5G.
The California regulators have asked the new company to boost jobs in the state by at least 1,000. It will also have to continue the LifeLine service in California and enroll at least 300,000 new LifeLine program customers.
The CPUC says it will appoint an independent monitor within the next 120 days to review T-Mobile's compliance with the approval. Both the CPUC and the California Attorney General may take enforcement actions if the company fails to comply with any of the conditions.