US Telecom Controller Chairman Supports T-Mobile, Sprint Merger

By David Shepardson and Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sprint Corp and T-Mobile US Inc have won the support of the US Telecommunications Regulator chairman, but will require a number of changes to their proposed $ 26 billion merger, including sale of Sprint's Boost Mobile cell.

On Monday, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai said he would recommend that the other four commissioners vote to approve the merger. Another member of the five-person FCC, Commissioner Brendan Carr, a Republican, also said he would vote to approve the deal.

When an order is prepared, the entire panel must vote to approve or reject the agreement. [19659005] Sprint jumped 25.1% to $ 7.73, while T-Mobile was up 6% to $ 79.93.

The FCC will not formally vote on the merger on Monday, but will first prepare an order, two people informed of the case, said. The Ministry of Justice must also approve the agreement.

In a filing with the FCC on Monday, the companies promised to sell Boost Mobile, a prepaid wireless provider.

Altice USA, the fourth largest cable company, has urged the FCC to reject the deal because it was concerned that the combined company could prevent it from offering phone service.

Altice has a mobile virtual network operator agreement with Sprint that will allow it to start offering mobile phone service later this year. The companies promised that they would not scratch the deal with Altice.

T-Mobile also promised that the new company would build a world-leading 5G network, the next generation of wireless services, to give rural Americans robust 5G broadband and

T-Mobile had said the companies extended a deadline for to complete the agreement until July 29. The two are among only four national wireless operators, with Verizon Communications and AT & T Inc leading the package.

The FCC and the Justice Department had been expected to make a decision at the beginning of June. They have weighted a potential loss of competition, and thus higher prices for consumers, against the possibility of a more powerful # 3 wireless operator who can build a faster, better 5G network.

(Report by David Shepardson and Diane Bartz; Editing by Susan Heavey, Paul Simao and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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