Back in April, T-Mobile and Sprint announced a $26.5 billion merger
, a long rumored deal that would combine the nation's third and fourth largest wireless carriers. The transaction requires the approval of both the FCC and the FTC. Once the two wireless providers filed with the FCC, an informal 180 day clock started to countdown. The FCC's goal is to have its review completed and its decision announced, before or on the 180th day.
Today, the FCC requested that the 180 day clock be stopped in relation to the T-Mobile-Sprint merger. In a letter written to T-Mobile's Kathleen O' Brien Ham, and Sprint's Vonya B. McCann, both SVP of Governmental Affairs for their respective employer, the FCC said that "additional time is necessary to allow for thorough staff and third-party review of newly submitted and anticipated modeling relied on by the Applicants."
Apparently, the regulatory agency says that three developments have forced them to stop the clock. One is a network engineering model that is more complex than the original document submitted. Additionally, a business model discussed by two T-Mobile executives (including COO Mike Sievert) with the FCC reference a "Build 9." This version of the business model was not received by the FCC and third-parties did not have access to it until September 5th. The commission says that more time is required to review this. Lastly, T-Mobile says that it will submit additional economic modeling in support of the deal. That, says the FCC, will also require more time to evaluate.
"The Commission may 'stop the clock,' that is, suspend its informal timeline, when the Commission’s ability to process and review the merits of an application is impeded by justifiable delay, the parties’ actions, or external events. Stopping the clock in such circumstances is intended to provide a more accurate picture of the time the Commission finds necessary to process a particular transaction. Stopping the clock does not itself delay a decision in a proceeding; it merely reflects that a decision could be delayed as a result of some external factor."-FCC
It would seem that the FCC does have valid reasons to stop the clock, and is well within its rights to do so. If you're looking for some subtle clue as to what this might mean as far as the transaction getting approved, you're wasting your time. There is no conspiracy in this action by the FCC; the agency merely wants to make sure that it gets the opportunity to examine all pertinent documents before reaching an informed conclusion.