Government & Politics

Government shutdown suspends Washington’s review of Sprint/T-Mobile merger

Sprint and T-Mobile have reached an agreement to merge

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure and T-Mobile CEO John Legere announce that the two companies have reached an agreement to come together to form a new company - one that will deliver the first 5G nationwide network.
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Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure and T-Mobile CEO John Legere announce that the two companies have reached an agreement to come together to form a new company - one that will deliver the first 5G nationwide network.

The government shutdown has halted Washington’s review of the $26 billion merger between Sprint and T-Mobile.

Official word came Wednesday when the Federal Communications Commission said it would suspend its “informal 180-day time clock” on mergers and other types of transactions that require its approval. The 180 days, often referred to as a shot clock, is the time the agency gives itself to review applications for approval.

The FCC had paused its review of the merger between Sprint and T-Mobile in September after the companies submitted a trove of new information. It resumed the review in early December, on day 55 of the 180-day scheduled review process.

This pause in the merger’s shot clock will end the day after the FCC regains funding once the shutdown ends.

A Sprint spokeswoman declined to comment Wednesday.

FCC staff had come to work Wednesday largely for the purpose of mothballing operations amid the government shutdown. Nearly 1,200 employees were sent home on furlough.

Some parts of the FCC operation avoid the cut-off of federal funding. These include FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the three FCC commissioners who collectively will decide whether to allow the nation’s fourth-largest wireless carrier to merge into the third-largest. Money for their posts comes from sources other than congressional funding, according to the agency’s shutdown plan.

Another 245 employees will continue to work, including those involved in running a government auction of wireless airwave licenses that also is funded independently of congressional appropriations. About 200 contract workers, such as security guards, will remain on duty as well.

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