As Sprint/T-Mobile $26.5 billion merger moves ahead, questions still remain

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- The US Department of Justice is clearing the way for two of the country's largest wireless carriers to combine.

On Friday, the DOJ signed off on Sprint and T-mobile's $26 billion deal. It had been a major hurdle meany feared might not be topped.

But the merger still leaves lingering questions about what Sprint's future in the metro might be.

About 6,000 people come to work every day at Sprint's Overland Park campus, and for years, those employees have known this merger was in the works. Many of them told FOX4 Friday, they hope the new federal ruling leaves them in a less limbo and that a stronger combined Sprint/T-Mobile emerges.

Sprint has shaved nearly 25,000 in the past two decades locally, and the company admits it's been facing mounting debt.

"Headquarters may not be, may not read Overland Park, Kansas, from this point forward, but I think it will be stronger company. People that work there will have stronger footing," said Jeff Pinkerton, an economic researcher with Mid-America Regional Council.

Pinkerton said some of the biggest uncertainty for Kansas City as the Sprint merger moves forward is whether a new combined company with T-Mobile will carry the same commitment to the community.

"They're part of many other businesses from a technical standpoint and can't overlook role Sprint's played as good community neighbor. They sponsor a lot of events. Their name is on our arena," Pinkerton said.

While T-Mobile has said it will keep a presence in Kansas City, critics of the merger are still very worried about jobs, with many Sprint corporate and retail jobs, likely to disappear.

"The T-Mobile/Sprint merger remains harmful to workers and consumers. It's anti-competitive and will kill 30,000 jobs. That's a huge negative of this deal in a day in which we're supposedly promising all public policy is geared toward job creation, not job destruction," said Debbie Goldman, with the Communication Workers of America union.

The good news for Kansas City is that Sprint has invested big bucks and built a huge network, which makes it an attractive asset for the new company to keep as the race for nationwide 5G presses ahead.

"We're a place a technical company would want to locate, and I think lot of businesses and corporations are finding the value in having major operations in more than one location," Pinkerton said.

The merger is still a long ways from being a done deal.

There are a few more regulatory approvals to get, and there's litigation filed by attorneys general in 14 states and the District of Columbia.  A verdict or settlement has to be reached in those lawsuits before Sprint and T-Mobile can officially combine.

The two companies also issued a joint press release about the merger's DOJ approval Friday.

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