Wireless carriers Sprint and T-Mobile cleared a regulatory hurdle Tuesday on the way towards a proposed $26.5 billion merger.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews the potential national security effects of foreign investments, gave the green light for the third- and fourth-largest carriers in the country to become a single provider.
The move overrides concerns about Sprint and T-Mobile’s connections to Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, previously labeled a national security threat by U.S. lawmakers. According to the New York Times, the corporations that own Sprint and T-Mobile are customers of Huawei, but may be distancing themselves following global concern over Huawei’s security.
Along with the approval from CFIUS, the U.S. Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Defense also withdrew their joint request to defer the merger, T-Mobile announced Tuesday.
A Sprint and T-Mobile merger still needs to pass the Federal Communications Commission, which has rejected similar proposals in the past on the grounds that more carriers means lower prices for consumers. A merger between Sprint and T-Mobile would leave three major wireless providers in the U.S.: Verizon, AT&T, and the new T-Mobile.
Sprint and T-Mobile claim a merger will create jobs and open up new opportunities for the upcoming 5G wireless technology. A study released Monday conversely found that the merger will lower wages for retail workers across the wireless service industry.
T-Mobile said in a statement that the merger is expected to be finalized “during the first half of 2019,” pending the remaining regulatory approvals.