FCC Pauses Review of T-Mobile’s Sprint Deal

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Federal Communications Commission paused its review of T-Mobile US Inc.’s proposed $26.5 billion purchase of Sprint Corp., saying it needs more time to review network engineering and financial models submitted by the applicants.

A “substantially revised” network engineering study submitted Sept. 5 “is significantly larger and more complex than the engineering submissions already in the record,” the agency said in a letter to the companies that it distributed by email on Tuesday. Similarly, a business model titled “Build 9” that was also submitted Sept. 5 needs further review, the FCC said.

The FCC sets a goal of completing merger reviews in 180 days, and can pause the countdown clock enumerating those days as it seeks clarifications or more information. On Tuesday the clock stood at Day 55.

T-Mobile and Sprint say consumers will benefit from a faster network even as their deal reduces from four to three the number of national competitors in the U.S. wireless market. An enlarged T-Mobile can quickly build a next-generation -- so-called 5G -- network giving more people access to speedy broadband, the companies told the FCC in June.

T-Mobile, the fastest-growing of the four major U.S. wireless companies thanks to low prices and features such as free video, needs approval from the FCC and Justice Department.

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