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FCC chairman will recommend approval of T-Mobile, Sprint deal

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said Monday morning that he would recommend the agency approve the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint.

Why it matters: The deal, which also requires federal approval from the Department of Justice, would reduce the number of national wireless carriers from 4 to 3. The FCC's announcement comes after the companies promised to divest Sprint's prepaid wireless brand, among other pledges, according to Pai.

What they're saying: "I believe that this transaction is in the public interest and intend to recommend to my colleagues that the FCC approve it," said Pai. "This is a unique opportunity to speed up the deployment of 5G throughout the United States and bring much faster mobile broadband to rural Americans."

  • Pai needs two votes in addition to his own for the deal to gain the agency's blessing.
  • Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said he would support the deal, while Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel said that she had "serious doubts" about it.

Details:

  • T-Mobile and Sprint have agreed to divest Boost Mobile, Sprint's prepaid wireless offering, as well as other commitments related to building out its 5G wireless network.
  • That comes on top of an earlier commitment not to raise prices for three years.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice declined to comment. The agency's review of the deal is ongoing.

  • A senior FCC official told reporters that its announcement was timed to the conclusion of its review, and that the DOJ and the FCC didn't always announce their decisions on deals at the same time.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with more details.