FCC approves Deutsche Telekom's VoiceStream acquisition

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved the application filed by U.S. wireless operators VoiceStream Wireless Corp. and Powertel Inc. to merge with Germany's Deutsche Telekom AG (DT), the agency said in a statement Wednesday.

The FCC said it had approved the merger Tuesday, adding that it will have "public interest benefits for U.S. consumers."

VoiceStream and Powertel, which operates in 12 Southeastern U.S. states, will become wholly-owned subsidiaries of DT when the merger is completed. At that time, the total non-U.S. ownership of DT will be 77 percent, including 45 percent owned by the German government.

U..S. regulations don't prohibit foreign governments from owning more than a 25 percent stake in U.S. radio licenses so long as the FCC finds that the deal doesn't harm public interests, the FCC noted.

Last month, both VoiceStream and Powertel approved plans to be acquired by DT, which intends to merge the two companies. The deal was valued at US$51 billion in July, but due to a drop in the stock price of DT, the value had fallen to about $22.5 billion earlier this month.

The merger should increase the buildup of VoiceStream's network in the U.S., the FCC said in the statement. Customers should benefit from an increase in competition, which could result in new features and services being offered by wireless operators, the FCC said.

DT has said the merger will create the first transatlantic GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) carrier, according to DT.

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