US regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sought outside assistance for its evaluation of T-Mobile US and Sprint’s proposed merger, calling in an independent economic expert to analyse the impacts of the operators’ plan.

The FCC tapped David Sibley for the job: Sibley is a professor of economics at the University of Texas at Austin and former deputy assistant attorney general for economic analysis in the antitrust division of the US Department of Justice.

In pitching their merger, T-Mobile and Sprint argued the tie up will yield thousands of new jobs, increased competition and lower prices, while helping the US reap the economic benefits of an early transition to 5G.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (pictured) stated Sibley will help the agency conduct a “rigorous economic analysis” of the deal, adding his work will “be essential to a thorough investigation into whether approval of this transaction would be in the public interest.”

The move comes as the FCC digs deeper into its review of the merger. Earlier this month, the Commission issued requests to mobile and cable operators including AT&T, US Cellular, C Spire, Verizon, Altice USA, Charter Communications and Comcast seeking information about the transaction’s expected impact on their wireless, fixed wireless, video and internet businesses.

Analysts from Wells Fargo Securities suggested the inclusion of the latter three companies, which have MVNO agreements with Sprint (Altice) and Verizon (Charter Communications and Comcast), was notable because it shows the FCC appears to be considering how the merger will impact markets outside wireless, including home broadband.