The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said on Thursday it has halted the informal 180-day “shot clock” on the review of the merger of wireless providers Sprint Corp and T-Mobile US Inc.
The FCC said the decision was made after the third- and fourth-largest U.S. wireless carriers had filed significant additional information on their network integration plans for 2019-2021 and other new information on the merger.
The FCC said it typically allows for additional public input after “substantial new submissions” by the applicants. The FCC said it expects to resume the “shot clock,” at the current Day 122 on April 4.
T-Mobile and Sprint welcomed the FCC decision describing it as “a positive step” that will help the regulator “ fully review the merits of our merger.”
Sprint said it hopes to complete the regulatory approval process by the end of June.
The deal to combine the carriers, struck in April 2018, was approved by both companies’ shareholders in October and has received national security clearance, but still needs approval from the Department of Justice and the FCC.
T-Mobile Chief Executive John Legere is arguing that the deal would create jobs and help with the construction of the next generation of wireless networks. He said the merged company would have more capacity which would lead to a push to lower prices.
A group of eight Democratic U.S. senators last month urged regulators to reject the deal, saying monthly bills could rise as much as 10 percent.
The U.S. wireless market has currently four main carriers, with AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc. to be the industry leaders.