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FCC puts T-Mobile-Sprint merger on pause for further review

The government agency says it needs more time to examine the deal.

CEOs Of Sprint And T-Mobile
T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Sprint Executive Chairman Marcelo Claure
Alex Wong / Getty Images

The FCC on Tuesday sent a letter to T-Mobile and Sprint saying it needs more time to review their proposed merger, according to CNBC

The Federal Communications Commission is pausing the "informal 180-day transaction shot clock," according to the letter, which will allow staff and third parties to thoroughly review the materials that have just been submitted.

T-Mobile and Sprint in April announced a $26 billion deal to merge, which would marry the third- and fourth-largest wireless service providers in the US. The two have tried twice before to merge, in 2014 and 2017. The first time around, regulators wanted to keep four national competitors. The second time, the parent companies couldn't agree on how much each side would control.

The companies are attempting to merge again because Verizon and AT&T are much bigger than either company. They need to combine forces to become a stronger competitor. T-Mobile and Sprint also filed their public interest statement to the FCC in June,  arguing that the merger would better deploy 5G networks nationwide.

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As stated in the FCC's letter, the agency wants to better understand the effects of the merger. The network engineering model submitted on Sept. 5 is "significantly larger and more complex than engineering submissions already in the record," and two other submissions regarding T-Mobile's business and economic models also need more review.

The FCC declined to comment beyond the letter.

"The additional review time is common to FCC merger reviews and we recently supplied a large amount of data to the FCC that they want sufficient time to assess," a T-Mobile spokesperson gave CNET a joint statement from Sprint and T-Mobile. "We are confident that this transaction is pro-competitive, good for the country and good for American consumers, and we look forward to continuing to work with the FCC as they evaluate our plans."

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