The federal government has approved the merger of T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS Inc., with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) saying a fourth-ranked carrier that can deploy 4G LTE nationally is in the public interest.
"We anticipate that the combination of T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS would enable the deployment of a substantial LTE network nationally that would enhance competition and provide important benefits for consumers," the FCC said, in a report released Tuesday.
Separately, the Department of Justice (DoJ) has OK'd the deal. "After a thorough review of the proposed transaction, the Antitrust Division has determined that the combination of T-Mobile and MetroPCS is unlikely to harm consumers or substantially lessen competition and has closed its investigation," the antitrust unit says in a statement.
The two operators can now go ahead with the work to start to combine their networks. The new company "would accommodate MetroPCS's existing LTE customers on the T-Mobile USA network with their existing handsets soon after the transaction closes and distribute MetroPCS-branded GSM/HSPA+ handsets that will operate on the T-Mobile USA network to new and upgrading customers promptly after the closing," according to the FCC report.
MetroPCS customers are anticipated to be fully migrated to the combined network, which seems likely to continue trading under the T-Mobile name, by the second half of 2015.
The report suggests that the operators will save $5 billion to $6 billion over time through decommissioning cell sites, although T-Mobile will maintain MetroPCS capacity in dense urban areas.
MetroPCS has 13 markets and parts of Florida up and running on its LTE network. T-Mobile is expected to launch its LTE network this year.