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| | news: For our NEXTEL Users : FCC approves Sprint Nextel merger without spectrum dives
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FCC approves Sprint Nextel merger without spectrum divestitures
By Dan Meyer
Aug 3, 2005
The Federal Communications Commission approved Sprint Corp.'s pending acquisition of Nextel Communications Inc., which will bolster Sprint's position as the industry's third-largest operator with more than 40 million subscribers. According to Sprint, the FCC approval completes all required regulatory approvals for the acquisition, and the carriers expect to close the deal shortly.
"The FCC concluded today that 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 wrote in its approval.
In approving the transaction, which was originally announced last December, the FCC did not require either carrier to divest any spectrum, network assets or customers. The government agency noted that there will continue to be "several other carriers with the ability to add subscribers and act as effective competitive constraints on the behavior of the merged entity."
The approval included the change of control of all licenses and authorizations held directly and indirectly by Nextel to Sprint, including SMR licenses in the 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands and licenses in the 1.9 GHz band that are part of Nextel's rebanding efforts.
The FCC also approved the transfer of control of all BRS licenses in the 2.1 GHz and 2.5 GHz bands and the leases of Education Broadcast Service spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band. Several EBS groups had lobbied the FCC to force the merged entity to divest the EBS spectrum. Sprint Nextel will now control spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band covering nearly 80 percent of the country.
"The commission believes that this transaction will not have a negative impact on competition in the markets for the products that are or will ultimately be supported by this spectrum, whether they be voice, broadband, video or other wireless services offered on a mobile, fixed or portable basis," the FCC wrote.
Sprint Nextel has said it is looking at launching advanced wireless broadband services using the 2.5 GHz spectrum and recently initiated network trials using several wireless broadband standards.
The FCC added that it will require Sprint Nextel to fulfill a voluntary commitment to meet certain milestones for offering service in the 2.5 GHz band-including plans to cover at least 15 million potential customers with service within four years and another 15 million pops within six years-"unless circumstances beyond its control prevent the merged entity from reaching those milestones."
The FCC also said it will hold Sprint Nextel to its plan to spin off its local wireline business, which Sprint previously said it expects to accomplish next year.
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