The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given its blessing to T-Mobile's proposed acquisition of MVNO Mint Mobile.

T-Mobile announced last year that it had agreed to pay $1.35 billion to acquire Ka’ena Corporation plus its subsidiaries and brands, which include Mint Mobile and Ultra Mobile, a wireless service offering international calling options to communities across the country, plus wholesaler Plum.

T-Mobile Mint Mobile
– T-Mobile

“Based on our evaluation of the potential competitive effects as well as the likely public interest benefits, and in light of T-Mobile’s voluntary handset unlocking commitment for Mint Mobile and Ultra Mobile devices that we impose as a condition to our approval, we find that, on balance, the proposed transfers of control will serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity,” said the FCC.

Ka'ena's collective three brands, Mint Mobile, Ultra Mobile, and Plum are estimated to have between two to three million subscribers.

Arguably the biggest asset of the acquisition is MVNO Mint Mobile, which runs off of T-Mobile's mobile network. Founded in 2016, MVNO was actually launched by Ultra Mobile.

Ultra Mobile, itself founded in 2011, also uses the operator's 5G network, with mobile virtual network aggregator (MVNA) Plum striking a wholesale agreement with T-Mobile last year.

Mint founders David Glickman and Rizwan Kassim will join T-Mobile to manage the brands, with the MVNO to run as a separate business unit. Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds is a part-owner of Mint.

The deal has come under scrutiny from some quarters, however, as MVNO Lycamobile made an effort to squash the agreement.

As an MVNO itself, Lycamobile is a competitor to Mint Mobile and Ultra Mobile. The company buys network access from T-Mobile on a wholesale basis and resells that access to its customers.

In a filing with the FCC, Lycamobile said that it has “struggled over the past several years to obtain basic functionalities from T-Mobile, such as eSIM and access to T-Mobile’s 5G standalone architecture, and to get T-Mobile to fairly observe the terms of its MVNO agreement."

It argues that T-Mobile's acquisition of Mint and Ultra is "anti-competitive."

"The treatment Lyca is experiencing at the hands of T-Mobile now is exactly the anticompetitive behavior that numerous parties warned the Commission against before approval of T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint,” Lycamobile said in a filing.

“Just as petitioners and economists predicted, the new T-Mobile has less incentive to provide fair terms to MVNOs and more incentive to engineer termination of existing deals.”

In response to the claims, T-Mobile asked the FCC to dismiss the complaint, stating it's without merit.