With the shareholder vote behind us, the T-Mobile/MetroPCS merger is free to close and is expected to do next Tuesday. With that closing date just 96 hours away, it’s time to take a step back and understand how this deal will affect you, the T-Mobile customer. The truth is that for now, you won’t see any changes other than the continuation of T-Mobile’s new UNCarrier/Simple Choice strategies as they refarm their network and begin to rollout LTE.
The deal will begin with T-Mobile and MetroPCS continuing with a “business as usual” approach, By the end of this year, T-Mobile expects to have 200 million pops covered with their LTE network. Once T-Mobile and MetroPCS join and remain two separate entities, both the T-Mobile name and MetroPCS name will still exist. It has been suggested that they make take a Sprint/Virgin Mobile approach with T-Mobile becoming the contract and B2B focused branch, with no-contract subscribers under the MetroPCS brand. Neither company has commented on whether or not something like this is a real possibility.
Once the deal closes, T-Mobile can start selling the same devices to both T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers. As I’ve repeatedly said on the various TmoNews’ social media channels, my biggest hope for this deal is that with a bigger customer count (42 million), T-Mobile can try and leverage more handset exclusives. This has been particularly frustrating over the years and with the new UNcarrier strategy, I’m hopeful T-Mobile can leverage a larger customer base to stock their shelves with more flagship devices. It’s my hope that with more size, comes more leverage and bargaining power.
Once we move into 2014 and 2015, the deal becomes a little more fruitful as the combined company begins to join networks. T-Mobile can use MetroPCS spectrum to expand their LTE footprint as both companies have released their LTE network on the AWS 1700MHz band. With MetroPCS spectrum in various cities, T-Mobile can expand their LTE capacity allowing for more speed and better coverage by building on Metro’s existing LTE network.
It’s when we get to 2015 that we see the really great spectrum play with T-Mobile and MetroPCS as both companies highlighted some 20×20 LTE spectrum coverage in some major markets around the country. In these markets, which include New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Boston, San Francisco, Tampa, Las Vegas, Orlando, Sacramento, and Detroit, LTE speeds will be twice as fast as Verizon’s LTE and 4x as fast as MetroPCS’s current network configuration.
To recap, for now, the two companies will continue with a “business as usual” approach. At some point in the near future, the plan is to migrate MetroPCS’ 1900MHz spectrum over to HSPA+, just as T-Mobile is doing with their own PCS spectrum. Metro’s current AWS spectrum will be used to expand and enhance T-Mobile’s own future AWS LTE network. As for how handsets, rate plans and the rest of those details will work, it’ll probably be some time before we get any sort of concrete detail. MetroPCS did confirm during the middle of last year however that they are working on software to “authenticate” MetroPCS devices to see T-Mobile’s network as a “home” network. The goal is to fully migrate users over the next couple years and decommission the CDMA network, freeing up more spectrum for LTE.
If you’re a Metro customer, go about your business and continue as though nothing as changed, just as T-Mobile customers should do. At the very least, there is likely to still be a wait until there is an opportunity for MetroPCS customers to grab T-Mobile devices anyway, so — as you were.