5G and Beyond

FCC Stops Sprint/T-Mobile Merger Review Clock Again

The FCC has once again stopped its informal "shot clock" merger review of the proposed $36.5 billion marriage between T-Mobile and Sprint.

The FCC has paused its review following the filing of "substantial new information" by the operators on February 21. The FCC has asked for "Interested Parties to file comments" no later than March 28, 2019.

If nothing from that process causes any further delays, the 180-day shot clock review will start again on April 4, which would be day 122 of the the 180-day process.

The agency first stopped the clock on the process in September 2018 following new network plans from Sprint and T-Mobile. The review restarted in December. The review halted again on January 3 following the US federal government shutdown that ended on January 25.

The latest FCC twist comes after T-Mobile revealed more of its "home Internet strategy," which is designed -- according to T-Mobile CEO John Legere -- to challenge what he labelled as the "cableopoly." (See T-Mobile Details Home Internet Service to Challenge 'Cableopoly'.)

New Street Research stated in an analyst note about the latest development that the home Internet strategy was a "good political strategy" but not "a good anti-trust" move.

The research firm says that, like T-Mobile's recent statement about keeping 5G contract pricing the same as 4G LTE pricing, it doesn't think the "in-home" move will damage the operators' efforts to obtain merger approval, but does indicate they are "still providing new chapters in their book" when they should be providing "summary arguments" for the deal. "We are not in the final inning," the New Street analysts state.

T-Mobile has stated the merger is expected to close in the first half of 2019. (See Darkness Gathers Over T-Mobile/Sprint Merger.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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