May 20 (UPI) -- Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai said Monday he is giving a thumbs up to the $26.5 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint after the companies agreed to a series of commitments.
Pai said he will present a draft order to his fellow FCC members in the coming weeks connected with the merger. He said that the companies committed to advancing the U.S.'s leadership in 5G wireless connectivity and closing the rural digital divide.
"In light of the significant commitments made by T-Mobile and Sprint as well as the facts in the record to date, I believe that this transaction is in the public interest and intend to recommend to my colleagues that the FCC approve it," Pai said in a statement.
"This is a unique opportunity to speed up the deployment of 5G throughout the United States and bring much faster mobile broadband to rural Americans. We should seize this opportunity," he continued.
Pai said the companies promised to deploy a 5G network that would cover 97 percent of the U.S. population within three years of the merger's closing. The companies said the coverage would improve to 99 percent within six years.
"This 5G network would also reach deep into rural areas, with 85 percent of rural Americans covered within three years and 90 percent covered within six years," Pai said. "Additionally, T-Mobile and Sprint have guaranteed that 90 percent of Americans would have access to mobile broadband service at speeds of at least 100 Mbps and 99 percent would have access to speeds of at least 50 Mbps."
T-Mobile and Sprint also agreed to divest in competitor Boost mobile to address competition concerns, the statement said.
One issue that was not addressed was the companies' connection with troubled Chinese telecom giant Huawei.
Deutsche Telekom of Germany, T-Mobile's parent company, and Japan's Softbank, Sprint's parent, are Huawei customers. The U.S. has accused Huawei with espionage and Google announced Monday that it would restrict access to the Chinese company.