T-Mobile and Sprint have taken another step closer toward getting their $26.5 billion merger approved, with the Federal Communications Commission announcing Wednesday that it is ready to vote on the deal.
The news was expected after the Department of Justice gave it's okay to the wireless tie-up last month after Dish Network agreed to purchase divested Sprint assets to become a new fourth wireless carrier. The FCC had already signaled in May that it would approve the deal, but it did not take a formal vote.
"After one of the most exhaustive merger reviews in Commission history, the evidence conclusively demonstrates that this transaction will bring fast 5G wireless service to many more Americans and help close the digital divide in rural areas," FCC chairman Ajit Pai, said in a statement.
"Moreover, with the conditions included in this draft Order, the merger will promote robust competition in mobile broadband, put critical mid-band spectrum to use, and bring new competition to the fixed broadband market."
In addition to giving the okay on T-Mobile and Sprint, Pai's release also announced that the FCC is set to give Dish its requested extension for deploying its spectrum. The satellite TV provider was previously facing a March 2020 deadline to use its billions of dollars of spectrum holdings but was hoping to get that pushed off in light of the deal with T-Mobile.
While the announcement is a step towards the merger, Wednesday's news was more an expected formality than anything else. T-Mobile still needs to win over the more than a dozen state attorneys general suing to block the deal over anticompetitive grounds if it wants to get its deal approved.