Merger partners Verizon Wireless and Alltel and the Sprint Nextel-Clearwire WiMax partnership received an Election Day gift from the FCC, which voted in favor of both ventures on Tuesday. The $28 billion union of Verizon and Alltel, one of the nation’s top regional mobile phone companies, would create the largest wireless carrier in the U.S. with more than 80 million customers. Valued at $14.5 billion, the Sprint-Clearwire venture announced last May is expected to result in the launch of the nation’s first coast-to-coast WiMax network within the next 30 months. Concluding that the Sprint-Clearwire network would serve the public interest, the agency’s commissioners unanimously approved the transaction, which FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein predicted would “spur competition with fixed broadband service.” The FCC’s vote on the Verizon-Alltel deal, however, was split along party lines by a 3-2 margin. To resolve competitive concerns, the FCC is requiring the post-merger entity to divest overlapping assets in 100 markets that encompass 22 states and in five additional markets that are not covered by a related Justice Department consent decree. Additionally, the FCC is requiring Verizon to honor current roaming agreements entered into by Verizon or Alltel with non-national wireless carriers for four years instead of two as agreed to originally by Verizon. Verizon will also be required to maintain Alltel’s GSM network operations indefinitely and to file cost data for all markets where it seeks high-cost universal service funding as a competitive eligible telecommunications carrier. Although FCC Chairman Kevin Martin explained that the conditions “[provide] added certainty to small and rural carriers,” Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein dissented, with Copps warning that “the combination of the two networks will substantially reduce consumer choice.” While approving the transaction, Commissioner Robert McDowell voiced concern that merger conditions pertaining to universal service funding may “potentially prejudice the Commission’s ongoing rulemaking on this important matter.” A Verizon spokeswoman welcomed the news, confirming: “we’re now working through the final steps and we continue to work to complete the transaction as soon as is practical.”