FCC Formally Approves Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday formally approved the $26 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. The approval was the last regulatory hurdle to creating a new mobile carrier.


The FCC filing means T-Mobile and Sprint will be allowed to join together as "New T-Mobile" to become a dominant third carrier in the United States alongside Verizon and AT&T. The Department of Justice approved the merger in July.

The finalized order came after a 3-2 vote along partisan lines, with both Democrats against it. FCC boss Ajit Pai said in a statement that the merger would be good for consumers and the U.S. as a whole:
"It would bring the benefits of the next generation of wireless technology to American consumers and advance American leadership in 5G. It would help millions in rural America benefit from high-speed 5G mobile broadband service... and it would promote competition."
However, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel argued that the consolidation of the two companies would likely follow the same path as previous mergers had, leading to higher prices, fewer jobs, and poorer service for the majority of customers:
"We've all seen what happens when market concentration increases following a merger. A condensed airline industry brought us baggage fees and smaller seats, even as the price of fuel fell. A condensed pharmaceutical industry has led to a handful of drug companies raising the prices of lifesaving medications, taking advantage of those struggling with illness. There's no reason to think the mobile-phone industry will be different."
Together, the two companies have committed to building out a nationwide 5G network covering 97 percent of the U.S. population within three years and 99 percent within six years. T-Mobile and Sprint have also promised that they will not raise prices for three years following the completion of the merger.

In an attempt to ensure a competitive wireless carrier market, the FFC also wants to see Dish become the fourth nationwide facilities-based wireless carrier in the United States. Dish has announced that it plans to deploy a 5G broadband network capable of serving 70 percent of the U.S. population by June 2023.

In 2011, regulators blocked AT&T's attempted acquisition of T-Mobile. In 2014, they blocked an attempted merger between Sprint and T-Mobile. This past July, however, the Department of Justice approved the merger.

A number of states have filed an antitrust lawsuit in U.S. federal court to block the proposed transaction; that lawsuit remains on the docket and must be resolved before the merger can go forward.

T-Mobile and Sprint anticipate that the merger will be permitted to close by the end of the year. If it does go ahead, it will combine two of the four major wireless carriers in the United States, giving the new company nearly 100 million customers.


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Deals Spotlight: Sprint Offers Savings on iPhone XR, iPhone 11, 10.2-Inch iPad, and Apple Watch Series 5

Sprint is continuing to offer new and existing customers a few select iPhone and Apple Watch-related discounts this month. Below we've rounded up each of these offers and explained how you can get them, so be sure to check out each deal before they expire.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Sprint. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

iPhone XR


Sprint has an ongoing flash sale on the 64GB iPhone XR, priced at $8 per month when you sign up for an 18-month Sprint Flex lease and add a new line of service. Within two bills you'll see a bill credit of $17 per month added onto your account.


This offer will end on October 10.

iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro


For the latest iPhone 11, Sprint is offering the 64GB iPhone 11 for $0 per month with eligible device trade-in, an 18-month lease, and new line activation. After this, you'll get $29.17 credited to your account every month.


The same offer can be applied to the more expensive 64GB iPhone 11 Pro and 64GB iPhone 11 Pro Max, which would end up priced at $12.50 per month and $16.67 per month, respectively.

These offers will expire on November 7.

iPhone 8


You can get the 64GB iPhone 8 for $10 per month or the iPhone 8 Plus for $14.17 per month, when you sign up for an 18-month lease and add a new line of service. Both iPhone 8 models will see a credit of $8.75 added to your bill each month, beginning within two bill cycles.


This offer will end on November 7.

10.2-Inch iPad


If you're looking to add a tablet to your Sprint account, you can get the 32GB 10.2-inch iPad for $4.17 per month once you agree to a 24-month billing agreement, add a new line on a qualifying plan, and have one active handset on your account.


At this discounted rate, the total cost of the new 7th generation iPad is reduced to $99.99. The deal is available in all three iPad colorways: Space Gray, Gold, and Silver.

This offer will end on October 24.

Apple Watch Series 5


Finally, Sprint has discounted the Apple Watch by 50 percent off this month, including the new Series 5 models. The offer requires you to sign a 24-month Installment Billing agreement, activate a new watch plan, and have one active handset on your Sprint account.


Once you meet all of these criteria, you'll see 50 percent off your cellular Apple Watch model of choice (excluding the 44mm Stainless Steel case with Milanese Loop band) via monthly bill credits. For Series 5 models, this means you can pay as low as around $10 per month for the device.

This offer will end on October 17.

Our full Deals Roundup has even more information on all of the latest Apple-related sales and bargains.

Related Roundup: Apple Deals
Tag: Sprint

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Department of Justice Approves $26B Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

Following more than a year of regulatory scrutiny, the U.S. Department of Justice today announced that it has approved the $26 billion merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, although with several conditions attached.


T-Mobile and Sprint will join together as "New T-Mobile" to become a dominant third carrier in the United States alongside Verizon and AT&T. Together, the companies have committed to building out a nationwide 5G network covering 97 percent of the U.S. population within three years and 99 percent within six years.

T-Mobile and Sprint earlier promised that they will not raise prices for three years following the completion of the merger.

Under the terms of the proposed deal, T-Mobile and Sprint must divest a substantial package of assets to Dish Network, including Sprint's prepaid subsidiaries Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile and some 800MHz spectrum. Dish will also gain access to at least 20,000 cell sites and hundreds of retail locations.

The deal paves the way for Dish to become the fourth nationwide facilities-based wireless carrier in the United States, ensuring a competitive landscape. Dish has announced that it plans to deploy a 5G broadband network capable of serving 70 percent of the U.S. population by June 2023.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai:
I am pleased that the U.S. Department of Justice has reached a settlement with T-Mobile and Sprint. The commitments made to the FCC by T-Mobile and Sprint to deploy a 5G network that would cover 99% of the American people, along with the measures outlined in the Department's consent decree, will advance U.S. leadership in 5G and protect competition.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere:
The T-Mobile and Sprint merger we announced last April will create a bigger and bolder competitor than ever before -- one that will deliver the most transformative 5G network in the country, lower prices, better quality, unmatched value and thousands of jobs, while unlocking an unprecedented $43B net present value in synergies. We are pleased that our previously announced target synergies, profitability and long-term cash generation have not changed.
The merger remains subject to remaining regulatory approvals and certain other customary closing conditions. Additionally, a number of states filed an antitrust lawsuit in U.S. federal court in June to block the proposed transaction; that lawsuit remains on the docket and must be resolved before the merger can go forward.

Regardless, T-Mobile and Sprint expect to receive final federal regulatory approval in the third quarter of 2019 and anticipate that the merger will be permitted to close by the end of the year.


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T-Mobile Reaches Divestiture Deal With Dish in Hopes of Gaining Approval for Sprint Merger

T-Mobile has reached a divestiture deal with Dish Network that perhaps brings it one step closer to earning government approval for its planned merger with Sprint, reports CNBC.

Dish Network and T-Mobile had been discussing a deal for Sprint's Boost Mobile brand and some wireless spectrum to ease antitrust concerns over the merger.


Though the two companies have much of the divestiture deal in place, sources that spoke to CNBC said that there are still issues that the Justice Department is "actively focused on" before it would allow a deal.

The government continues to be concerned that the agreement between Dish and T-Mobile isn't enough to make sure that Dish would provide meaningful competition in the U.S. cellular market.

The DoJ wants Sprint and T-Mobile to ensure that there continues to be a fourth major carrier in the United States following their merger. The combination of Sprint and T-Mobile, which would be called T-Mobile and would be led by John Legere, would leave the U.S. with three major carriers: T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon.

T-Mobile wants to limit Dish's spectrum capacity to 12.5 percent, while T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom wants to limit any strategic Dish investor to five percent, restrictions the DoJ may not be happy with.

Sprint and T-Mobile first announced a merger agreement in April 2018, but the completion of the deal continues to require government approval. As of May, U.S. regulators were said to be "leaning against" approving the merger unless some of T-Mobile and Sprint's assets were sold off, and T-Mobile and Sprint have been working toward that goal.


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AT&T Named 2019’s Fastest U.S. Mobile Network in Annual PCMag Carrier Showdown

AT&T is the fastest mobile network in the United States according to PCMag's latest annual mobile network comparison, which was released this morning.

For the test, PCMag employees drove through 30 cities and 25 states across the U.S. and ran more than 60,000 mobile speed tests to determine the speediest mobile network. The tests were conducted using Samsung Galaxy S10 devices on networks from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint.


This year, AT&T edged out Verizon, the winner for the past five years, thanks to AT&T's focus on improving its LTE network in preparation for 5G technology. While all four networks improved overall on both speed and reliability compared to last year, AT&T improved a bit more than the others.


AT&T won or tied for first place in 15 of the 30 cities tested, and it tied or came out on top in all rural regions. AT&T was on top overall in the northwest, southwest, north central, and northeast, while Verizon won in the south central region and T-Mobile came out ahead in the southeast.


AT&T has been making improvements to its 4G network and has been labeling those 4G enhancements as "5GE," but really it's the same 4G LTE technology offered by other wireless companies as well. Still, these efforts to improve the 4G network ahead of 5G have led to overall speed boosts for AT&T customers.

The full results of PCMag's 2019 mobile carrier speed testing can be found over on the PCMag website.


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Dish Network Nearing Deal for Boost Mobile as T-Mobile and Sprint Unload Assets for Merger Approval

Dish Network is close to securing a deal to pay $6 billion for Sprint's Boost Mobile brand and wireless spectrum, reports Bloomberg.

Sprint is selling Boost Mobile in an effort to unload assets to gain regulatory approval for its upcoming merger with T-Mobile. The two companies have been aiming to sell Boost Mobile to appease U.S. regulators who believe the merger raises antitrust concerns.


The United States Justice Department wants Sprint and T-Mobile to ensure there continues to be a fourth major carrier in the country as the combined T-Mobile and Sprint company would leave just AT&T and Verizon as the other major carriers.

Sprint and T-Mobile's combined company, set to be called T-Mobile and led by John Legere, would have close to 100 million customers, putting it second only to Verizon.

Sprint and T-Mobile first announced a merger agreement in April 2018, but the completion of the deal requires government approval. As of May, U.S. regulators were said to be "leaning against" approving the merger unless some of T-Mobile and Sprint's assets were sold off.

Dish may be planning to announce a deal as soon as this week, according to sources who spoke to Bloomberg. The terms of the deal have not yet been finalized and it could still fall through, however.


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Sprint Launches Mobile 5G Network in Four U.S. Cities

Sprint today announced the initial launch of its mobile 5G network, bringing 5G connectivity to Sprint customers in areas of Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Kansas City.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Sprint expects to expand 5G availability to areas of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington D.C.

At the foundation of Sprint 5G is Massive MIMO, a breakthrough technology that dramatically improves network capacity. Sprint is using 64T64R (64 transmitters 64 receivers) 5G Massive MIMO radios from Ericsson in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Kansas City. These radios support split-mode, enabling Sprint to simultaneously deliver LTE Advanced and 5G NR service. Sprint's 5G Massive MIMO radios run on its 2.5 GHz mid-band spectrum, and they are deployed on Sprint's existing 4G cell sites, providing a nearly identical footprint for both 2.5 GHz LTE and 5G NR coverage.
Early 5G networks are limited in scope and are available in small areas in the above listed cities, with residents of those areas able to check out the Sprint press release for specific data on where 5G will be available.

The type of 5G network that Sprint is rolling out uses millimeter wave spectrum, which offers blazing fast data transfer speeds but is sensitive to interference and limited in range, making it best suited to use in urban areas because it can't cover wide swathes of land.

In rural and suburban areas, U.S. carriers, including Sprint, will roll out 5G networks on mid-bands and low-bands, aka sub-6GHz 5G. T-Mobile, the company Sprint is hoping to merge with, is focusing heavily on this more widespread connectivity.

Non mmWave 5G technology won't be as fast as the speeds possible with mmWave, but it will bring improvements over current 4G LTE networks. Sprint says its mmWave 5G technology is 10 times faster than LTE.

Sprint is, in the future, aiming to expand its 5G network through its merger with T-Mobile, though there are concerns that it won't be approved. A recent report suggests the United States Justice Department wants to require T-Mobile and Sprint to "lay the groundwork" for a new wireless carrier (to create a fourth competitor) as a condition for the government allowing the merger to proceed.

Connecting to a 5G network requires a smartphone that supports 5G, and there are few on the market at the current time. Options include the LG ThinQ 5G and the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.

There are no iPhones that are able to connect to 5G networks at the current time, and Apple is not expected to release a 5G device until 2020. Rumors suggest 2020 iPhones will feature 5G chips from Qualcomm, following the resolution of the legal woes between Qualcomm and Apple along with Intel's decision to drop out of the 5G chip market.


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U.S. Justice Department ‘Leaning Against’ Approving T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

The United States Justice Department is "leaning against" approving the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, reports Bloomberg.

The merger might not be approved because the two companies "don't go far enough" to resolve antitrust concerns raised by the U.S. government.


Bloomberg's report comes shortly after United States Federal Communications Chairman Ajit Pai said that he would recommend approval of the merger between Sprint and T-Mobile.

T-Mobile and Sprint have implemented changes to their merger to allay concerns, including the sale of Boost Mobile, a three-year buildout of a 5G network, and a pledge not to raise prices while the network is being built, but these steps may not be enough to earn approval.

Back in April, there were reports suggesting the DoJ had told Sprint and T-Mobile that the merger would not be approved as it was originally structured, which prompted the plans to sell Boost Mobile.

Sprint and T-Mobile first announced a merger agreement in April 2018, but the completion of the merger requires the government to approve the deal. A merger between Sprint and T-Mobile would combine two of the four major carriers in the U.S., and it would use the T-Mobile name.

The two companies would have close to 100 million customers, putting it second only to Verizon. The U.S. DoJ is concerned the deal would be a major threat to competition.

Sprint and T-Mobile planned to have the merger completed no later than the first half of 2019, but that date was pushed back to late July earlier this year.


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Proposed T-Mobile and Sprint Merger Gains Support From FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

United States Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said this week that he would recommend approval of the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint (via Bloomberg). The news comes after T-Mobile and Sprint announced changes to their $26.5 billion merger agreement, including the sale of the prepaid brand Boost Mobile, a three-year buildout of their 5G network, and a pledge not to raise prices while the network is being built.


Under the new plan, the companies will sell off Sprint's Boost Mobile brand, but keep Virgin Mobile and T-Mobile's Metro brand. If Sprint and T-Mobile had kept all three, they would have owned the largest chunk of the prepaid cellular market in the United States, totaling about 42 percent of the market.
“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 said in a statement Monday. “The commitments made today by T-Mobile and Sprint would substantially advance each of these critical objectives.”
If completed, the new combined company would ditch the Sprint name and be called T-Mobile, and current T-Mobile CEO John Legere would serve as the Chief Executive Officer. Sprint and T-Mobile have said the new company will be a "force for positive change" in the U.S. wireless, video, and broadband industries, supercharging T-Mobile's Un-carrier strategy and allowing it to "lead in the 5G era."

Although Pai's approval is a big step, the merger still needs to be approved by the full FCC board and the Department of Justice. In April, Sprint and T-Mobile announced a deadline extension for the merger to July 29, 2019.


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FCC Questions U.S. Carriers on Phone Location Data Sales Practices

The United States Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday sent out letters to Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint questioning the carriers about their data selling practices, reports Motherboard.

The carriers have been found selling real-time location information from customer devices to data aggregators, leading the location data to end up in the hands of private investigators, bounty hunters, law enforcement, credit companies, and more.


Companies like LocationSmart and Zumigo obtained location information from U.S.-based cellular carriers and passed that data on to dozens of other companies, putting real-time customer location information in the hands of those who should not have it.

After coming under scrutiny for their location sharing practices, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, pledged to stop doing so, but many had not actually stopped entirely as of January.

The FCC is now demanding answers from the four carriers. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel asked the heads of each company to provide details on whether the data aggregators were allowed to save phone location data and what steps carriers are going to take to make sure shared data has been deleted. From the letter to AT&T:
Real-time location information is sensitive data deserving the highest level of privacy protection. But it is evident from press reports that this data may have been sold without the explicit consent of consumers and without appropriate safeguards in place.

Accordingly, I appreciate your decision to end these location aggregation services by March of this year. To that end, I kindly request that you provide an update on your efforts and confirm by what date AT&T ended its arrangements to sell the location data of its customers. Please also confirm whether and by what date the company ended arrangements to sell assisted or augmented GPS data.

Finally, the public still has very little detail about how much geolocation data is being saved and stored-including in ways that may be far too accessible to others. Even de-anonymized location data may be combined with other information in ways that could make it personally identifiable again. Accordingly, please explain whether AT&T's agreements permitted aggregators or others to save and store location data they received from your company. If so, please confirm what steps your company is taking to ensure that these companies delete or destroy previously shared data and any derivative data. Alternatively, please explain what steps AT&T is taking to safeguard such data from use or onward sale that is inconsistent with consumers' original content.
Similar letters were also sent to Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile, and all four carriers have been asked to provide responses to the FCC by May 15, 2019.


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