The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued formal approval for T-Mobile US and Sprint’s proposed merger, confirming it would green light the deal despite opposition from two of its five members.

In a statement, chairman Ajit Pai said the regulator had concluded the deal offered several benefits following a review lasting more than a year. Specifically, the FCC expects the merger to advance US leadership in 5G, help close the broadband gap in rural areas and increase competition.

He noted structural remedies put in place by the FCC would address competitive and pricing concerns.

The announcement of its formal approval followed a vote last month in which commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks objected to the deal.

In a fresh statement, Rosenworcel again blasted the decision, branding the merger “blatantly anticompetitive” and claiming it will “end a golden age in wireless that helped bring to market lower prices and more innovative services”.

Rosenworcel and Starks were among a number of politicians and critics which pressed the FCC to delay its vote to give the public time to comment on conditions imposed by the regulator and the Department of Justice in exchange for approval.

Sprint and T-Mobile still face a lawsuit from 16 attorney generals aiming to block the deal: a court case is due to begin on 9 December.