The Department of Justice's clearance of the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile is a "significant win" for the United States in 5G, a member of the Federal Communications Commission told CNBC on Friday.
The Justice Department announced Friday that it has approved the deal between T-Mobile and Sprint that includes divesting some assets to Dish to create a fourth major service competitor. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said on CNBC's "Squawk Alley" that the deal will speed up the development of widely available 5G service in the United States.
"That's a real significant win for U.S. leadership in 5G. It's been my top priority. It's been a big priority for the Trump administration. And by accelerating 5G build-out through this deal, 99% of Americans are going to see 5G faster," Carr said.
In addition to the Justice Department, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced support for the more than $26 billion merger in May. The deal still faces a lawsuit from 13 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia that seeks to block it.
Carr said the clearance from the FCC and the Justice Department "significantly undermines" the case from states. The commissioner, who was nominated by President Donald Trump in 2017, said federal regulators were more focused on rural areas, while the states are focused on major cities that should be less concerned about getting 5G.
"The state suits are focused very much on New York City, San Francisco and 5G in those markets. And look, regardless of this transaction, New York, San Francisco and maybe even San Jose, they're going to get 5G no matter what," Carr said.
Verizon began rolling out 5G coverage in select cities earlier this year, and AT&T offers the service in certain geographic areas. The service, which offers download speeds that can be several multiples faster than 4G, is not currently compatible with most phones on the market.
Sprint and T-Mobile say the merger will allow them to build a nationally competitive 5G network.
"Combining the assets of Sprint and T-Mobile for the first time creates a third competitor of the same scope and scale as AT&T and Verizon. I think that's going to be a game changer for consumers in terms of high-speed internet," Carr said.
As part of the deal, Dish Network will purchase wireless spectrum and Sprint's prepaid phone services.