The Federal Communications Commission officially approved its order after approval of the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint following a controversial vote last month.
The writing has been on the wall since May, when FCC chairman Ajit Pai said he would approve the deal and recommend the same to his colleagues. The decision was formalized in the recent vote by FCC commissioners along party lines, with the two Democrats disagreeing with the commission.
The Ministry of Justice has also approved the deal. As part of the regulatory assessment process, T-Mobile agreed on a time frame for deploying the next generation of 5G networks and selling Sprint's subsidiary Boost Mobile. The merger still faces a court case from a coalition of public advocates-general.
In dueling statements issued today, Republican commissioners claimed that the deal was in the economic interest of consumers and would improve wireless coverage and competition, ideas disputed by consumer organizations.
"In particular, the transaction will help secure the leadership of the United States in 5G, close the digital divide in rural America and strengthen competition in the broadband market," Pai said in a statement.
Democrats in the committee responded by closing the decision. "Reducing the number of national providers from four to three will harm consumers, harm competition and eliminate thousands of jobs," Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. The merger, she said, "will end a golden age in wireless."
Commissioner Geoffrey Starks reiterated similar concerns. "In the short term, this merger will lead to the loss of possibly thousands of jobs," he said in a statement. "In the long run, it will create a market of three gigantic wireless providers with every incentive to divide the market, raise prices and only compete for the most lucrative customers."