WASHINGTON — Last week T-Mobile and Sprint announced their long-anticipated merger. But will the deal stand up to the scrutiny of regulators?
“Although the Trump administration is generally seen as more friendly to the telco industry than the Obama administration was, it has taken issue with some mega-mergers, most notably AT&T's bid for Time Warner,” according to Wired magazine. “The combination of T-Mobile and Sprint, the third and fourth largest mobile providers, respectively, would bring the number of major cellular carriers down from four to three, which could attract a lot of scrutiny.”
The merged company would have a combined total of around 127.2 million wireless subscribers, putting it close to AT&T's 141.6 million subscribers and Verizon's 150.5 million.
Those opposed to the deal say it will result in less competition and higher prices, but defenders argue that a combined T-Mobile and Sprint could put more downward pricing pressure on AT&T and Verizon.
The current administration, and the FCC in particular, “has a generally more laissez-faire attitude toward both the telco industry and mergers...but the administration also has a populist streak that could foil, or at least slow down, this merger,” according to the same article.
The administration recently blocked Singapore-based chipmaker Broadcom's acquisition of Qualcomm out of fears that “a consolidated chip market would give China's ambitions in the industry an edge.”
T-Mobile and Sprint are both already foreign-owned.