DOJ's T-Mobile-Sprint Decision Likely Friday

Signs are good that the Justice Department will be announcing its decision on the T-Mobile-Sprint merger Friday morning. 

Late Thursday night, DOJ said the antitrust chief Makan Delrahim will be holding a "pen and paper" briefing at 11 a.m. Friday (July 26) to announce "a significant merger enforcement action." 

DOJ did not say which merger it was, but it is likely to be that one. 

FCC chairman Ajit Pai has already signaled he supports the deal on condition that T-Mobile spins off its Boost Mobile prepaid business and some spectrum, which DISH is expected to buy. 

Pai has called the deal "a unique opportunity to speed up the deployment of 5G throughout the United States and bring much faster mobile broadband to rural Americans. We should seize this opportunity.”  

His fellow Republicans have signaled they are okay with it, too, so it should have the votes to pass. 

 T-Mobile has been saying that without the deal the company would not be able to build out that national 5G network as quickly.  

Pai also said that the combined company has "offered specific commitments regarding the rollout of an in-home broadband product, including to rural households."  

According to FCC officials speaking on background, the companies have promised to structure the Boost divestiture so that Boost has the incentive and ability to compete with T-Mobile-Sprint in the low-cost market, and vice versa, notwithstanding the wholesale agreement between the new company and Boost.

Journalists covering the media beat are hoping the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit does not choose about the same time to announce its decision on the challenge to the FCC's network neutrality rules.

The court generally releases its decisions Tuesdays and Fridays between 10 and 11 a.m. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.