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Analysis America's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is likely to approve a controversial $26bn merger between the third and fourth largest US mobile carriers, T-Mobile and Sprint, sparking claims of regulatory inconsistency and coziness with the mobile industry.
As has become the norm at the federal regulator, the decision appears to have been made solely by the chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, who posted a statement on Monday morning arguing that new commitments made by the two companies about 5G deployment and rural wireless access were sufficient for approval.
Commitments - FCC - Commissioners - Today - Declaration
Those commitments are not yet public, and appear to have only been provided to the FCC's four other commissioners after today's declaration was made, judging from one commissioner's tweets.
Pai's statement was quickly supported by fellow Republican commissioner and Pai's former aide Brendan Carr, though Democratic commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was notably less impressed.
Conditions - Carriers - Colleagues - Right - FCC
"I'm reviewing the conditions that have been proposed by the carriers and blessed by my colleagues," she tweeted. "You should have the right to do so, too. The FCC should put them out for comment so the public can tell us just what they think about this new proposal."
She also questioned the rationale for approving such a larger merger in a market with so few companies. America's mobile market is entirely dominated by just four companies: Verizon and AT&T both posses between 34-35 per cent of the market, with T-Mobile US possessing 17 per cent and Sprint 12 per cent, leaving just two per cent. A merger would create three powerhouses and, critics argue, lead to less, not more, competition.
Tweet - Kind - Consolidation - Airlines - Drug
Rosenworcel acknowledged as much in a second tweet: "We've seen this kind of consolidation in airlines and with drug companies. It hasn't worked out well for consumers. But now the FCC wants to bless the same kind of consolidation for wireless carriers. I...
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