Can you hear it? The sound of millions of Americans subjected to shrinking competition among wireless service providers?
The Republican-dominated Federal Communications Commission approved T-Mobile and Sprint’s controversial merger today, voting along party lines, multiple news outlets are reporting. Republican commissioners at the FCC, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, green-lit the deal. The remaining two Democratic commissioners voted against it.
Multiple states are still suing to block the merger, as the Verge points out, but some states have instead opted to cut special deals with the carriers. The deal has publicly been in the works since April 2018 and would combine America’s highest- and worst-rated carriers (T-Mobile and Sprint, respectively), according to a report by the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
With the third- and fourth-largest U.S. carriers squished together, Americans will essentially have just Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile left to choose from. Critics of the deal have pointed out the obvious: When competition shrinks, prices generally go up. T-Mobile has grown in recent years on its own without devouring its smaller rival, and there’s no reason to believe a new competitor will fill the void left behind by Sprint. T-Mobile, however, argues the merger will help it better compete with its larger rivals, particularly amid the hype-soaked race to 5G.