The busy week surrounding the T-Mobile-Sprint merger took another twist Friday.
After getting a thumbs-up from the FCC, followed by a report that the Department of Justice staff , a new report suggests that the DOJ may still let the merger go through.
According to the New York Post, FCC chairman Ajit Pai “consulted” with DOJ antitrust head Makan Delrahim before giving his public support for the $26 billion deal. While details of the conversation weren’t revealed, the paper reports that the fact that the two spoke before Pai’s endorsement suggests that Dalrahim may go against DOJ staff and allow the deal to go through.
The FCC and DOJ each need to approve the deal, which has seen government pushback over the consolidation of the national US wireless carrier market from four major players to three.
DOJ staff have reportedly been against the merger over such antitrust concerns, while T-Mobile and Sprint have argued that the deal is necessary for quickly building a robust nationwide 5G network. The 5G argument was signaled out by Pai in his statement endorsing the deal Monday.
“Two of the FCC’s top priorities are closing the digital divide in rural America and advancing United States leadership in 5G, the next generation of wireless connectivity,” Pai wrote, adding that the commitments made by “T-Mobile and Sprint would substantially advance each of these critical objectives.”
According to the Post the position of DOJ staff hasn’t changed, though it notes that it is ultimately up to Delrahim to decide if the department should file a lawsuit to block the deal. Further concessions from T-Mobile are also possible, with the paper reporting that Delrahim’s staff have been pushing for T-Mobile to agree to put off raising prices for seven years.
The company previously told the FCC that itif the merger was approved.
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a Techhnews request for comment.