Could a T-Mobile/Sprint merger threaten Verizon and AT&T?

Could a T-Mobile/Sprint merger threaten Verizon and AT&T?

T-Mobile US CEO John Legere has said that a possible merger with Sprint may offer substantial competition to the wireless "duopoly" of Verizon and AT&T. A merger between the two carriers may soon be a reality, if SoftBank, the Japanese carrier that now owns Sprint, successfully purchases T-Mobile US. While T-Mobile has been doing fairly well lately, Legere wants to enhance T-Mobiles capabilities while still retaining the "maverick" image that he's cultivated for the carrier, according to Bloomberg:

“We all need better scale and capability,” he said in a televised interview with Emily Chang on “Bloomberg West.” “The question starts to be: How do you take the maverick and supercharge it? We either need more spectrum and capability and a lot more investment, or we need consolidation.”

Do you think that a combined Sprint and T-Mobile would be enough to threaten Verizon and AT&T's hold on the U.S. wireless industry? Let us know below in the comments.

Source: Bloomberg

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Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is a news reporter for iMore. He's also chilling out and having a sandwich.

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Could a T-Mobile/Sprint merger threaten Verizon and AT&T?

36 Comments

In a way yes but in a way no. Sprint's quality has went downhill from what long time users have told me. Also if they did merger just keep john and the name t-mobile.

AT&T and Verizon need a viable challenger - separately, Sprint & T-Mobile can't really bring a challenge to the Big Two... together, they could.

Unless they do something retarded like try to run 5 different wireless technologies together as one company. They need to stick with LTE and GSM but add Sprint's spectrums.

Well as a Sprint Customer my only question would be is how would the new plans work if this was to happen? Plus Sprint works great for me though it would be interesting to see. And of course it would threaten AT&T

A merger between Sprint and T-Mo threatens T-Mo's customers. Who cares about AT&T and Verizon? They can take care of themselves just fine.

I was a long time Sprint user, but wound up going to AT&T. My coverage is much better with AT&T, but was usable under Sprint. I tried T-mobile briefly between Sprint and AT&T, but the coverage wasn't good enough to keep them. However, if they combined networks (LTE anyways, Sprint was CDMA only when I was there), kept the unlimited data from Sprint and the low prices from T-Mobile, I'd switch to them.

T Mobile also has unlimited data. Unlimited everything was $70 the last time I checked. Not a bad deal at all, if the coverage was there.

I thought the divergent technologies used by each would be a hindrance. When Sprint bought Nextel they had to operate 2 networks. Its what helped crush them years ago. "Push to talk" never really caught on and no one did it as well as Nextel. I'm not sure is using the acronyms TDMA vs CDMA apply, but TMO was always TDMA (like AT&T always was) and Sprint was CDMA (like VZ). Unless the phones could roam onto each other's cells, what's the point?

Nextel owned the IP and patents on push2talk, which is why no one else did it as good. Nextel's P2T was really time, like a walkie talkie. Everyone else's P2T was essentially a system where one would speak, which was basically turned into a "recording" of sorts, then transmitted to the other person as a "recorded message". At least this was information given to me by different reps at both Verizon and AT&T at the time when they tried their hand at P2T.

Not happening.. DoJ and FCC have been fairly direct in that they are happy with the results of keeping T-Mobile separate. They would be doing a 180 if they suddenly decided that 4 majors were not a good idea.. T-Mobiles success re-enforces their stance... Gives them a feather in their cap, so to speak, even as many thought T-Mobile would die a horrible death...

If T-Mobile were in trouble.. I'd see them considering it... however, the exact opposite is true.. So not happening, notta.. nope.. As is, FCC and DoJ will fight Sprint/Softbank hard on this I think. ATT will likely come out against it as well.. Verizon will stay out of it..

As a t-mobile customer, I will be against it, short of John staying in power. If he leaves, Uncarrier dies and I have no loyalty to Sprint.. I HATE them really. It'd be another mass-exiduce from T-Mobile.. The no-contract era would be short lived indeed..

DOJ and FCC put a stop to the AT&T and Tmobile merger due in part due to not wanting 2 GSM companies combining to a sole GSM provider in the US. But the DOJ and FCC had no issue to Tmobile buying MetroPCS, which is CDMA. As much as I loathe Sprint and do not want to see them purchase Tmobile, my gut tells me that the DOJ and FCC will not try too hard to keep it from happening unless some real compelling reasons come to light.

On another note, it been know for a few years now that Duestche Telekom, which is Tmobile Germany and owner of Tmobile US, has been wanting to sell off Tmobile US but no one other than AT&T made any real serious offers. Now there is one (Softbank/Sprint).

We shall see how this unfolds. In my opinion, this merger is a train wreck waiting to happen and the casualties will be the customers.

They wanted 4 major carriers, metropcs isn't a major carrier which is why they were ok letting Tmo buy them

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I have a feeling the DOJ and FCC might block this. They did for the AT&T merger, but, I think the circumstances are a bit different here. Softbank is attempting to leverage T-Mobile, I'm fairly certain they are not just trying to buyout and destroy their competition. T-Mobile has made huge strides in terms of roll out in a relatively short period of time. Sprint has essentially stood still, as Legere put it: they are just a pile of spectrum with tons of potential. The other thing to remember is this isn't Sprint buying T-Mobile from everything we heard, this is Softbank buying T-Mobile. Most are assuming it's Sprint and that Sprint would take over and kill things. If Softbank owns both they could leverage both companies together to make something great.

What if Softbank wanted T-Mobile so they could feed T-Mobile the spectrum Sprint is sitting on? This would keep the momentum T-Mobile has going without them having to invest crazy amounts of money into an auction. While 700MHz would be great for T-Mobile, Sprint already has 800MHz(not sure if it's usable for phones though), so T-Mobile could leverage that instead.

Instead of the Sprint name coming out on top it could be the T-Mobile name. They could leave Legere in charge and use Sprint's assets to T-Mobile's advantage. Eventually then they could fold Sprint into T-Mobile and it would be one carrier.

In the end I'm not convinced either way right now. But, as I think more about it, I think it's not a bad idea and could create a power house.

I'm not sure if the FCC and DoJ would block this merger. It would actually add a real third competitor to the national market. Apart neither Sprint or T-Mobile can take on Att/Verizon, but with the combined spectrum and numbers they could give them a run. The major problem would be the CDMA & GSM networks, although I believe that CDMA is planned to phase out by 2018(?) LTE would be fine, but fall back could be a problem for a time unless it was stated upfront that the network would quickly switch to only one technology.

If a T-Mobile/Sprint merger were more of a T-Mobile takeover of Sprint, they could very well threaten the top two. T-Mobile has disrupted the market, and in a good way for consumers.

If it's more of a Sprint takeover of T-Mobile, then no. It'd be just another network that squeezes its customers, doesn't like unlocking phones, and so on, and so why would one move to a worse network under those conditions?

I hope they do. I don't even want their service I think it's crappy. I just hope 2 crappy service provides join to give alright service and somewhat threaten AT&T enough to have them make a decent plan that doesn't involve that crappy next plan. That new one that came out for $130 is awesome until you realize your paying $75 for 2 iPhones a month. Through this plan it's $900 a year. Which is a lot more than 600 and simply either selling your phone for much less out of your pocket. I just don't see the value in the next plan or any plan like it. Why would I pay $200 for 10gb of data when I could pay $125 for 2 iPhones with unlimited data. Yes I can't upgrade at promotional price but When I sell my phone I always get the next iPhone for promotional price so I really don't feel the effect. Feels good to vent about the rip offs . Oh and verizon sucks. I check all the time how to go to ATT But they haven't come out with anything to convince me. I thought I found it with the new $130 10gb plan that just came out but nope. I use 20-25gb a month so going to a 10gb is me desperate to get away from verizon.

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I would welcome any competition that helps AT&T drive down their "already low priced monthly plans".

[spits in the dirt]

I know this would never happen but I think we should be asking...Would an AT&T and Verizon merger hurt a proposed T-MO and Sprint merger? I think my first mention would kill the merger title of this article.

I don’t get your point. AT&T and Verizon would never be allowed to merge. A Sprint and TMo merger could create a company that could legitimately challenge the big two.

I HATE SPRINT !!!! I will leave Tmobile and most likely go to Verizon Wireless if this merger goes thru !! Sprint is HORRIBLE !!! SoftBank has not helped them since their purchase and I do NOT believe the will help Tmobile either !!

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Let's be clear, Sprint is a mess, period. Network vision was activated Mid-2011 and we have only 340 LTE sites??? The LTE itself still has holes in coverage areas here in Dallas/Ft Worth, which was one of the first LTE cities. I'm currently AT&T but my step-son remained on Sprint. We did a speedtest New Year Day from my home. I pulled 9MB on AT&T HSPA+ (No LTE) and he pulled 3MB Sprint LTE. That should answer what they would do to T-Mobile. A total collapse of two networks instead of one.

TMO and sprint have spectrum and $$ they just aren't using it right. Build out your network and you won't need a merger to challenge the big two

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Keep the separate, sprint has done nothing in year and would ruin what great strides TMO has made.

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Long time T-Mobile customer who has fantastic service along with lightning fast Data Speeds. My HSPA+ speeds are 15 down & 4 up, My LTE speeds are between 30-40 down & 15-22 up. These are all day every day. Sprint can not help my service or many others, their 3G service is Pathetic & for a company with big bucks right now their LTE service is the slowest & least efficient. With all their money they can't even help themselves. Please T-Mobile stay the hell away from Sprint, T-Mobile will fall apart if Sprint even comes near them. Thank You T-Mobile.

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I would love to see Google start up a network (maybe satellites?), plus spread their optic fiber broadband all over the country.

As an incredibly happy T-Mobile customer, a merger really worries me (since Sprint is the acquiring company). T-Mobile's uncarrier image actually has a lot of benefits that I use (no contract, unlocked phone, international data/texts, etc) that I'd be nervous about Sprint taking away and returning to a more traditional carrier system. The one thing I wouldn't mind is having better coverage in some areas!
A long-time AT&T customer, I was just fed up with the structure, constant updates to their policies (in their favor), and 2-year commitment.

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