About 70 percent of Nextel's shareholders and more than 90 percent of Sprint's shareholders gave thethe thumbs-up during separate votes Wednesday.
Sprint's proposed purchase of Nextel for about $36 billion must still be approved by the Federal Communications Commission.
"The Sprint and Nextel merger is a bold move that will allow the newly merged company to play a winning hand," Sprint Chairman Gary Forsee said in a statement.
The confidence expressed Wednesday by the shareholders is part of an overall mood of investor acceptance for major telecommunication mergers, even though the consolidating phone industry will likely meanphone calls because there will be less competition.
Merger mania began in 2004, when top-tier cell phone operators AT&T Wireless and Cingular Wireless merged. Shareholders also overwhelmingly approved that deal. Cingular is now the No. 1 carrier in the United States, followed by Verizon Wireless.
Also, local phone giantfor $16 billion. And a drawn-out bidding war for MCI, which pitted would-be buyers Qwest Communications International against Verizon Communications, ended recently with Verizon as the apparent winner.
Additionally, a number of failing rural cell phone operators have been devoured by second-tier wireless carriers.