FCC commissioner Brendan Carr says his support of two of the top four wireless carriers merging--T-Mobile and Sprint--hinged on those companies' commitment to build out 5G to 97% of the population within three years.
That is no big surprise since winning the race to 5G is a priority for the President and FCC chair Ajit Pai. In addition, Pai deputized Carr to oversee agenda items on easing impediments to that rollout.
In an interview for C-SPAN's Communicators series, Carr called that a "really good win" for rural America. He also pointed to the fact that the merger would create a stronger third provider to compete with AT&T and Verizon.
Pai has said he will circulate an order approving the deal. Carr said he was on board and fellow Republican commissioner Michael O'Rielly tweeted that he was also inclined to support it, which would give the FCC the necessary three votes to approve, though the Justice Department has not yet concluded its antitrust review.
Carr said one of the key ways to drive up broadband access in rural areas is to drive down the cost of deployment, which he says the FCC has been doing to the tune of billions of dollars by streamlining the permitting and siting process, an effort he has championed.
The second key is the Universal Service Fund broadband subsides, he said, and the third is freeing up spectrum.
Carr's Communicators episode airs on C-SPAN Saturday, May 25, at 6:30 p.m. ET, and Monday, May 27, on C-SPAN2 at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET.
C-SPAN is a suite of public service networks funded by the cable industry.