FCC Okays T-Mobile/MetroPCS Merger

Genachowski Says Union Will Promote Competition

The FCC has approved the merger of T-Mobile and MetroPCS.

The National Association of Broadcasters had asked the FCC to approve the T-Mobile/MetroPCS merger. That, according to an NAB source, was the first time NAB has endorsed a wireless merger.

T-Mobile is one of the wireless carriers that the NAB teamed up with to endorse a framework for the incentive auction band plan.

In a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, NAB president Gordon Smith had urged the commission to approve the merger, saying it was further evidence that the free market was the route to "purported spectrum challenges."

Last October, T-Mobile and MetroPCS proposed a merger creating a $24.8 billion, 42.5 million subscriber company. T-Mobile is a subsidiary of German company Deutsche Telekom.

The FCC and Justice last fall blocked AT&T's bid to buy T-Mobile, but that involved one of the two dominant carriers heavying up, while this deal could create a stronger competitor to AT&T and Verizon.

"With today's approval, America's mobile market continues to strengthen, moving toward robust competition and revitalized competitors," said Genachowski in a statement on the deal approval. "We are seeing billions more in network investment, while the courts have upheld key FCC decisions to accelerate broadband build-out, promote competition and benefit consumers, including our broadband data roaming and pole attachment rules. Today's action will benefit millions of American consumers and help the U.S maintain the global leadership in mobile it has regained in recent years."

The Justice Department also concluded its review of the deal, announcing Tuesday that "the Antitrust Division has determined that the combination of T-Mobile and MetroPCS is unlikely to harm consumers or substantially lessen competition and has closed its investigation."