Sprint Nextel marriage gets FCC, DOJ nod

The $35 billion merger between Sprint and Nextel is virtually a done deal now that the FCC and the Department of Justice have approved the transaction.

On Wednesday both groups gave the union, which will solidify Sprint’s position as the third largest wireless service provider in the U.S., their blessing.

Sprint Nextel will serve about 45 million customers behind only Cingular Wireless with about 50 million users and Verizon Wireless with 45.5 million subscribers. T-Mobile is now a distant fourth with 18.2 million wireless customers.

Sprint and Nextel are expected to announce the close of its merger “shortly,” according to Sprint. 

The FCC approved the merger in a unanimous vote. In a statement released by the Commission yesterday the FCC said, “Sprint’s acquisition of Nextel’s licenses will serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity, and that the likely public interest benefits of the merger outweigh any potential public interest harms.  …The FCC believes this transaction is unlikely to result in collusive, anti-competitive behavior or create unilateral market power on the part of the merged entity.” 

The FCC did not include many stipulations, but the Commission did make it clear that it expects Sprint to follow through with its planned spinoff of its local division. After the merger closes Sprint says it will concentrate on the spinoff.

The companies originally announced the merger in December.

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