This just in: the Federal Communications Commission has approved the merger between T-Mobile and MetroPCS.
Here’s a statement from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who applauded the deal:
“With today’s approval, America’s mobile market continues to strengthen, moving toward robust competition and revitalized competitors. 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.
Mobile broadband is a key engine of economic growth, with U.S. annual wireless capital investment up 40% over the last four years, the largest increase in the world, and few sectors having more potential to create jobs. In this fast-moving space, of course challenges remain, including the need to unleash even more spectrum for mobile broadband and continuing to promote competition and protect consumers. The Commission will stay focused on these vital goals.”
Meanwhile, FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said she’s hopeful the merger will “result in a stronger fourth nationwide carrier and bring more competition to the market.”
“By allowing these two market disrupters to join forces and harmonize their spectrum holdings, today’s action should ultimately lead to more choices and lower prices for consumers,” she said.
T-Mobile’s proposed deal to gobble up MetroPCS could be finalized early next month. Last Wednesday, the carrier got past one big hurdle when the Department of Justice gave the green light to let a 30 day period of waiting expire.
And now with today’s FCC approval, things are looking good for the merger. But not everyone will be happy with the FCC’s decision — several entities had been urging the FCC to make sure jobs are protected as a result of the merger.
Though T-Mobile and MetroPCS did admit the deal would result in a “relatively small number” of job losses, the CWA said that the two companies are using the word ”synergies” as a euphemism for firing workers and are underestimating the effect of the merger.
In her statement today, Rosenworcel also addressed this issue, stating that major job losses are “not in the public interest,” and that she’s been given word that the merger will actually increase jobs in the U.S.
“The companies have pledged to me that they have no plans to close any domestic call centers, to move them offshore, to close any retail stores, or to reduce retail positions as a result of this deal,” she said. “They have also assured me that they plan to increase the overall number of workers they employ in the United States. I expect that the company will keep its word—and live up to these promises.”
Last week, reports said that T-Mobile was planning to cut more than 100 people in marketing and other departments at the company headquarters in Bellevue.
It has been more than four months since T-Mobile announced its intentions to merge with MetroPCS. T-Mobile plans to issue a $1.5 billion cash payment as part of the deal, and give MetroPCS shareholders a 26 percent ownership in the new entity.
Today, the MetroPCS board sent a letter to shareholders, urging them to approve the merger with T-Mobile.
If approved, the transaction would combine T-Mobile with MetroPCS, which directly employs 3,700 people to service about 9.3 million customers. T-Mobile employs about 36,000 in the U.S., with 4,80 0people here in Washington.
T-Mobile is the country’s fourth largest wireless carrier, and it is looking to outgun Sprint, which is involved in its own merger efforts with Clearwire. Both T-Mobile and Clearwire are based in Bellevue, so these deals have special significance to the Seattle region.
Last month, T-Mobile reported lower fourth quarter revenue and profits, and gave a clear signal that it will be making additional cuts in attempt to to shore up its business.
Previously on GeekWire: T-Mobile fires back at AT&T with new ad: “What keeps AT&T up at night? Apparently us.”
Reach staff reporter Taylor Soper at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Taylor_Soper