We knew things were moving forward, and now the Federal Communications Commission has approved the merger between T-Mobile and MetroPCS. In a statement released today, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said that allowing the two companies to join forces will "benefit millions of American consumers and help the US maintain the global leadership in mobile it has regained in recent years."

Word first broke that T-Mobile's parent company, Deutsche Telekom, was interested in acquiring MetroPCS last year, with the boards of both companies approving the transaction last October. Regulatory approval was still necessary, however, but earlier this month the Department of Justice let a 30-day waiting period — mandated because of anti-trust concerns — lapse without intervening.

T-Mobile's LTE aspirations stand to benefit

The merger will provide T-Mobile with precious resources to grow its LTE services. According to a conference call last year, MetroPCS customers will be able to access 3G service via T-Mobile's GSM network, while MetroPCS' CDMA spectrum will be repurposed for LTE. "At the date the deal closes," the company told investors at the time, "we will have an array of GSM, HSPA+, and LTE devices available for MetroPCS customers to purchase."

Today the MetroPCS board also sent a letter out to stockholders urging them to vote in favor of the merger. The company will be holding a special stockholder meeting on April 12th to conduct the vote, with MetroPCS CEO Roger D. Linquist writing that a successful combination of the two companies "will create the value leader in the U.S. wireless marketplace."

Update: The Department of Justice has also officially closed its investigation of potential merger issues. In a statement, it said that "the combination of T-Mobile and MetroPCS is unlikely to harm consumers or substantially lessen competition."