T-Mobile, MetroPCS Merger Gets Thumbs-Up From Feds - Twice

T-Mobile, MetroPCS Merger Gets Thumbs-Up From Feds

Washington — The merger between T-Mobile and MetroPCS was given official green lights from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday.
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Washington — The merger between T-Mobile and MetroPCS was given official green lights from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday.

The DOJ noted in a statement: “Like many local and regional providers, MetroPCS faces limitations, stemming from its lack of nationwide spectrum, networks and scale, and therefore exerts little influence on these aspects of mobile wireless competition.”

It added later, “The proposed combination of T-Mobile and MetroPCS may have a procompetitive impact in that it improves T-Mobile’s scale and spectrum position, particularly since MetroPCS’s spectrum holdings are compatible with T-Mobile’s existing network.”

The FCC said in its own statement: “To the extent there may be some possible competitive harms in selected geographic areas, we find that these possible competitive harms are outweighed by certain public interest benefits likely to result from the proposed transaction.

“Such benefits include the facilitation of [LTE] deployment, the expansion of the MetroPCS brand into new geographical markets, the development of a more robust, national network, improved quality of service, and the strengthening of the fourth largest nationwide service provider’s ability to compete in the mobile broadband services market.”

The companies still need to receive approval from the federal Committee on Foreign Investment and from MetroPCS shareholders, who will vote April 12. The merger was first announced in October.

T-Mobile gained 61,000 net new subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared with a year-ago loss of 526,000. The carrier attributed the gains to its prepaid service and wholesale-customer growth, which do not provide as much revenue and profits as contract customers. Its total Q4 revenue fell 5.2 to $4.91 billion vs. $5.2 billion in the prior-year period.

MetroPCS reported 8.9 million subscribers for the fourth quarter of 2012, down approximately 93,000 from the prior-year period. Its total revenue was up 4 percent vs. Q4 2011.

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