This rumor seems to pop up every time the wind blows in a certain direction. T-mobile wants to acquire Sprint, Sprint wants to acquire T-mobile, Sprint and T-mobile dance the Samba etc etc. Deutsche Telekom (T-mobile USA parent company) has a market value six times that of Sprint and while Sprint seems to be on a roll these days with a bounty of surprisingly affordable yet all encompassing plans combined with a super star winter lineup they hemorrhage customers at every turn. Any tech blogger or tech fan in general immediately jumps at the notion to point the incompatibility of the two company’s networks, CDMA and GSM. Considering Sprint doesn’t exactly have a strong record of accomplishment merging companies with incompatible networks we can at least be thankful T-mobile is leading this dance. That being said, there are still an unfathomable amount of questions as to how this would work, what would this do to the wireless landscape with only three major players. Telegraph UK, the newspaper responsible for this round of rumors reports that the Deutsche Telekom has called in Deutsche Bank in preparation for an offer for Sprint. This could get very interesting, very quickly and while the prospect of jumping right onto AT&T’s back with a customer base that rivals their own makes my heart fill with joy, that doesn’t mean it’s the smart play. If I were the boys at the FCC I’d want to see the best damn play by play integration schematic ever created by man on how exactly this merger would work.
Interestingly enough, this report comes hot on the heels of a PCWorld story, which all but bashed T-mobile USA proclaiming “T-mobile has little to offer US mobile providers.” Well sorry Tony Bradley, I disagree and I’m sure I speak on behalf of all Tmonews readers. While T-mobile’s 3G network continues to roll out at a furious pace onward toward its 2009 goal of 250 million POP’s it has yet to really turn the T-mobile image around. The dominant player in the Android game thus far has also failed to really give T-mobile the same type of customer rush AT&T has felt with the iPhone deep in its pocket. On the positive side, T-mobile continues to roll with JD power award after JD power award, for both customer service and call quality. Unfortunately, those awards don’t seem to materialize in significant gains for our beloved magenta. I received a very insightful email from a reader two days ago who made two very interest points that I would like to consider, 1) The Microsoft experience shows that inattention to details and poor user experience can relegate even a dominant player to the sidelines over time. On the other hand 2) Apple shows that even a small player with a well-developed idea can grow rapidly. With Sprint still suffering from the stigma of failed customer service and a plagued wireless network, with AT&T taking nothing but a beating in the press lately T-mobile is in the perfect position to capitalize on its strengths. For all its network awards, Verizon still suffers from the image of uber-expense and while T-mobile who rivals Verizon in almost every JD power award and has prices less than that of Verizon has yet to really exert that power. Forwarding customers to billshrink simply isn’t the right move, it’s not going to produce a sudden influx of millions of customers. That needs to happen by reputation, reliability and marketing. T-mobile needs to do more to showcase the strengths it has rather than its weaknesses and any good tech blogger worth a damn will tell you, pick the carrier first, and phone second. Whatever the end result of a Deutsche Telekom/Sprint Merger is, T-mobile USA needs to focus on the now, and what it can do without spending billions of dollars to swallow up one large competitor or a handful of tiny ones. Android is great, but it’s not the end all be all of wireless, T-mobile is ripe to make a move on both Sprint and AT&T without spending billions to acquire either. AT&T will continue to shoot itself in the foot with the iPhone network woes and Sprint, well Sprint will be Sprint and lose customers no matter what they bring to the table. So T-mobile, spend the money, don’t spend the money but acting fast to take advantage of one of the most exciting times in wireless isn’t just a recommendation right now, it’s a full blown necessity.