The Federal Communications Commission approved SoftBank Corp.’s $21.6 billion bid for mobile carrier Sprint Nextel Corp., giving Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son a position in the U.S. market.
“Today is a good day for all Americans who use mobile broadband services,” FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said in a statement today. The commission determined that the transfer of control of Sprint’s airwaves is in the public’s interest, she said.
The FCC also approved Sprint’s offer to buy the half of wireless operator Clearwire Corp. it doesn’t already own.
“The increased investment in Sprint’s and Clearwire’s networks is likely to accelerate deployment of mobile broadband services and enhance competition in the mobile marketplace, promoting customer choice, innovation and lower prices,” Clyburn said.
SoftBank’s bid stands to boost Sprint, the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier, as a competitor to the nations’s two biggest mobile carriers, Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. SoftBank’s founder, Son, has pledged innovative pricing and network investments.
Tokyo-based SoftBank will own 78 percent of Sprint, based in Overland Park, Kansas.
A SoftBank representative had no immediate comment on the commission’s action. Mike DiGioia, a Clearwire spokesman, had no immediate comment.
The deal continues a re-ordering in the growing mobile market, after the fourth- and fifth-largest U.S. carriers combined May 1 into T-Mobile US Inc.
U.S. antitrust and security officials earlier cleared SoftBank’s bid. The companies gave assurances they would limit use of telecommunications gear made by Huawei Technologies Co., based in Shenzhen, China.
A congressional committee last year said Huawei’s connections to the Chinese army created the potential for electronic spying. Huawei has said its exclusion is “misguided” and doesn’t resolve vulnerabilities arising from common global equipment supply chains.
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