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FCC Chair: Sprint/T-Mobile merger approval order coming 'soon'

An order to recommend the approval of T-Mobile US Inc.'s pending merger with Sprint Corp. will be circulated soon, U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said during the press conference at the agency's open meeting Aug. 1.

The U.S. Department of Justice conditionally approved the merger July 26, requiring the companies to divest numerous wireless assets to DISH Network Corp.

"We will be evaluating, I believe, that DISH is a credible and serious buyer, that they have an incentive and ability to compete," Pai said at the meeting.

Pai had announced support for the merger in May and his intention to circulate a draft order approving the deal. Pai's announcement was shortly followed by concurring remarks from Republican colleagues Brendan Carr and Michael O'Rielly.

Jessica Rosenworcel, the top Democrat in the agency, said during the press conference that she remains "skeptical" that the merger would be good for consumers, competition and the economy.

The DOJ agreement would settle a civil antitrust suit filed July 26 by the DOJ and five state attorneys general from Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota. A previous antitrust suit was filed by attorneys general from 17 states. The suit will go to trial in the fourth quarter if more states do not join the settlement agreement.

The merger was proposed in April 2018.