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FCC's T-Mobile-Sprint Decision Remains 'Procedurally' Un-Decided

According to INCOMPAS, whose members include Dish, Florida has signed off on the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint--joining a Justice Department settlement of the deal conditioned on the spin-off of prepaid business Boost Mobile to Dish. But the FCC had yet to do the same at press time.

Related: Could 'Sprint' to Finish Become Slow Roll

Justice settled with the companies back in July, but the deal can't close until the FCC weighs in.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has circulated the FCC's conditional approval of the deal, which includes an associated extension of spectrum build-out requirements for Dish. The two other Republicans have said they support it, which means it has the votes for approval awaiting only the process for making that official.

FCC officials had signaled they expected an official approval by the end of September, but that hasn't happened. If the hold-up is one or both Democrats not yet having voted, which is likely, the item will eventually be deemed granted, but only after a customary waiting period and extension, which is apparently where the process stood at press time. Spokesfolk for the two Democratic commissioners were not available for comment.

On the other side of the issue, a number of states have joined in a suit to block the merger.

There are a number of issues that have cropped up around the deal, including Democrats arguing that Sprint will never become the fourth facilities-based provider Justice assumed it would become in allowing the deal.

Justice says that the combo will create a stronger number three competitor to Verizon and AT&T, and the condition that spinning off pre-paid wireless operator Boost Mobile to Sprint, in combination with that company's spectrum holdings, will seed a fourth facilities-based carrier. The states argue that it will instead reduce competition with no guarantee that Sprint will ever morph into a new "uncarrier."

Then there is the FCC investigation launched two weeks ago of alleged Lifeline broadband subsidy abuses by Sprint. The Communications Workers of America has asked the FCC to delay a vote while it investigates.