Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Monday recommended approval of the proposed $26 billion merger of Sprint and T-Mobile, giving the deal better prospects of clearing regulatory hurdles.
Pai said in a statement that pledges by both companies to deploy fifth generation, or 5G, broadband speeds across most of the United States could meet an FCC priority of bridging the digital divide in rural America.
“This 5G network would also reach deep into rural areas, with 85 percent of rural Americans covered within three years and 90 percent covered within six years,” Pai said.
“Additionally, T-Mobile and Sprint have guaranteed that 90 percent of Americans would have access to mobile broadband service at speeds of at least 100 (megabits per second) and 99 percent would have access to speeds of at least 50 Mbps.”
Pai also noted that both Sprint and T-Mobile have made concessions to assuage regulatory concerns, including a commitment to not raise wireless fees for three years and to divest themselves of prepaid wireless brand Boost Mobile to give consumers another competitive option.
The two companies also promised a rapid build out of its 5G network, seeking to cover at least two-thirds of the U.S. population with download speeds that exceed 100 megabits per second.
Within six years of the merger closing, the companies said 90 percent of Americans could access such download speeds.
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The companies outlined those concessions in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday.
The concessions appeared to help tilt Pai and another FCC commissioner toward favoring the deal.