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Oct 16, 2019

T-Mobile's Sprint purchase said to be heading to court after clearing FCC vote

A pigeon rests on a T-Mobile logo outside a mobile phone store, operated by Deutsche Telekom AG, in Munich, Germany, on Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. Even with consumer-price growth accelerating to 1.8 percent -- a rate not recorded since early 2013 -- European Central Bank president Mario Draghi can insist that unprecedented stimulus is necessary to put the recovery on a more solid footing and stoke underlying price pressures that continue to be muted.

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Regulators approved T-Mobile US Inc.’s proposed purchase of Sprint Corp., advancing a deal that still needs to prevail in a lawsuit from states that contend the combination of nationwide wireless carriers will harm consumers, people familiar with the matter said.

The Federal Communications Commission on a 3-2 Republican-led vote gave final U.S. regulatory approval to the US$26.5-billion deal proposed last year, said two people who spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter hasn’t been published.

Tina Pelkey, an FCC spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to a telephone call and email.

The wireless combination won Justice Department approval in July as the carriers agreed to sell airwaves to Dish Network Corp. for a new wireless company to bolster competition once Sprint is eliminated as a choice for consumers.

T-Mobile and Sprint have agreed not to close their deal until after a decision in a multistate lawsuit, where trial is set for early December. The states say the combination of the third- and fourth-largest U.S. wireless providers will decrease competition and raise prices in a market that’s already concentrated. The deal’s backers say it will quickly bring advanced 5G networks and create a stronger rival to leaders AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc.

--With assistance from Scott Moritz