FCC Chair Backs T-Mobile and Sprint Deal, Clearing Hurdle for Merger

T-Mobile's proposed $26.5 billion merger with Sprint just cleared its first legal hurdle, as Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai says he will recommend that the agency approve the deal. The FCC will most likely follow his lead, but the deal still needs approval from the Justice Department, where antitrust enforcement staffers have expressed concerns, Bloomberg reports. In an announcement, Pai said Monday that the two companies agreed to expand their rural coverage if the merger is approved, by building a 5G wireless network that will cover 97 percent of the US population within three years and 99 percent of the country within six years. Pai says the new network will cover 90 percent of rural residents within six years. …