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FCC needs more time to review telecommunications merger

California residents who follow the technology and communication sectors are likely aware that the telecommunication giants T-Mobile and Sprint have announced a proposed merger. Consumer rights groups have voiced concerns about the deal and the impact that it could have on wireless service costs, and the Federal Communications Commission said on Sept. 11 that it needs more time to review the merger to determine whether or not these arguments have merit.

The heads of both Sprint and T-Mobile are on record as saying that consumers would benefit if the two companies joined. They say that the merger would lead to lower prices for consumers and more competition in an area of crucial economic importance. The executives also claim that they need the deal in order to roll out the latest 5G wireless service.

The transaction would leave just three players in a once-crowded marketplace, which is why the FCC has decided to pause the usual 180-day review period following the announcement of the proposed merger. The agency says that it needs more time to scrutinize documents supplied by both companies. The merged Sprint and T-Mobile would compete against Verizon and AT&T if the deal is allowed to proceed. Sprint and T-Mobile began discussing a merger in 2014, but their initial plans were put on hold due to regulatory concerns.

Attorneys with experience in mergers and acquisitions may prepare documents with particular care when official scrutiny is likely to be intense, and they may also explain to their clients why official watchdogs and consumer organizations tend to look on certain types of deal with suspicion. Attorneys may also anticipate the kind of objections that these groups are likely to raise and negotiate the transaction with them in mind.

Source: CNN, "Sprint and T-Mobile will have to wait longer to merge", Ahiza Garcia, Sept. 12, 2018

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