U.S. Justice Department career staff would reportedly oppose T-Mobile-Sprint merger

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Amid all of the recent rumors that a T-Mobile-Sprint merger is coming soon, many have wondered how regulators would react to such a deal. Today a report claims to have some details on that.

The U.S. Department of Justice career staff who do most of the investigating into whether or not a T-Mobile-Sprint merger will harm customers will probably recommend that the deal be stopped. That’s according to three sources speaking to Reuters.

Those sources add that the DOJ’s main concern will be how the merger would affect U.S. mobile competition. They’d like to see T-Mobile continue taking customers from AT&T and Verizon, says the report.

It’s rumored that T-Mobile and Sprint agreed to a merger in late September and that they plan to announce the deal when they announce their quarterly earnings later in October.

Nothing is official at this point, but this report is some good news for folks that’d prefer T-Mobile and Sprint stay separate. The final decision on whether to oppose or approve the T-Mobile-Sprint deal will lie with Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, as well as the FCC.

If a T-Mobile-Sprint merger is announced, do you think it’d be approved or opposed by regulators?

Source: Reuters

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  • moonoverparma

    Can Sprint sustain business on their own?

    • Durandal_1707

      Who cares? If they’re failing, let them fail on their own without getting their taint all over T-Mobile.

  • Aurizen

    I think I would like a Amazon and T-Mobile merger

    • riverhorse

      I agree, i’ve stated this before. Tmo + Amazon(even Walmart or Costco) or Google + a satellite provider.

      • Aurizen

        I would prefer a big company that’s well known Amazon or a cable company would be ideal!

        • BreakingData

          I agree that way we still get to keep the “Big 4” and then new parent company would have the capital to build up sprints network. It is obvious that SoftBank isn’t going to invest in its own purchase.

        • Aurizen

          Well I see where you’re coming from. Amazon is a Titan. If Tmobile gets a cable company and John is running it its something great.

      • Sayahh

        Please don’t let Walmart get anywhere near TMUS.

        • gorilla

          I thought walmart’s mobile plans are already powered by tmo.

        • Sayahh

          So are lots of other MVNOs. That’s not quite the same thing as co-owning it, though.

      • Mike

        What does Tmobile or Amazon, Walmart , or Costco gain from a merger? Nothing … Tmobile isn’t gaining no spectrum or anything.

    • Reagan1

      Amazon is killing businesses left and right and most on this site are worried about Tmo-Sprint creating a monopoly. How ironic. I’d much prefer a Tmo-Dish merger, but have no real problem with this supposed merger coming. I also wouldn’t put much faith in anonymous sources, especially from Reuters. We’ll all know either way very soon.

    • marque2

      Amazon is pure evil. That move would cause me to switch to Verizon.

    • Kevin Hintzman

      Or Amazon and…. Sprint?

    • Remember when T-Mobile couldn’t convince Amazon to carry its phone..?

      Also, one of Amazon’s first mini-series it self-produced was called “The Man In The High Castle” which was actually about living in a world where the US lost World War II, and Germans/Japanese split up the land. (T-Mobile- Germany; Softbank- Japan).

      It’s a great series, and was quite foreshadowing. Too bad John Legere didn’t watch the series.

  • mikeZo6

    GOOD

  • Durandal_1707

    I am shocked but pleasantly surprised. T-Mobile is doing well on its own and is now quite spectrum-rich after the 600 auction. Its future is good. Let’s not mess it up by repeating the mistake of the Sprint-Nextel merger which ruined both companies.

    • marque2

      Tmo has experience with quickly and effectively merging a CDMA company into its fold. The Metro PCS merger is textbook on how to do things right. I don’t think we would end up with a Nextel situation if the companies merge.

      • Except the MetroPCS spectrum holdings were complimentary and the Sprint holdings are not?

        • marque2

          Sprint is also bigger and has a negative internal culture which needs to be squashed. Didn’t say there weren’t risks – but Tmo can do it effectively. There are already a lot of phones that so Sprint and Tmo. A few years back my Nexus 5 supported ATT Sprint and Tmo – so it is not impossible.

        • Impossible? No. Advantageous? Also, no.

      • MetroPCS was such a joke. In most areas they had 5Mhz channels and couldn’t support high-speed network themselves. Heavily relied on Sprint.

        Might as well showcase AT&T’s ability to acquire Cricket if your going to write that textbook on mergers.

      • Tony Chen

        we dont want your crappy sprint network please.

        • marque2

          It is only scrappy because Sprint doesn’t have the money to upgrade – especially after the Wimax fiasco. With TMo in charge they will be able to upgrade both networks and unify them making it a win win for everyone. Especially since Tmo will finally have the bandwidth it needs to.launch 5g.

          Your comment is a bit short sighted.

  • riverhorse

    If the Feds nix this proposed Sprint-Tmo merger now, later on when Sprint gets into dire straits they will be forced to approve a merger then– possibly with a worse suitor than Tmo.

    • Durandal_1707

      What constitutes a worse suitor than T-Mobile? If Sprint is bought by any company that’s not Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile, there will still be four major competitors in the industry.

      • Leutrim Topalli

        No other regional carrier has enough money to buy sprint or merge with them. You obviously don’t want another cable company merging with another carrier? The tmobile sprint merger makes the most sense

        • Don’t fool yourself. There’s so much money in this economy, it’s crazy.

          The minute people stop investing in Apple, and into something new, you’ll see people in finance try to reel people back into “the first $trillion stock”.

          Apple is a luxury product that uses these networks; not the other way around..

  • Mike

    Tmobile defense can be Verizon and ATT was giving tons of spectrum for free. Also Verizon and ATT already have a monopoly over the industry . Comcast is buying Verizon and they already own NBC netowork and are both tv/internet providers… ATT owns Direct TV and Time Warner which owns HBO, TNT, CNN, and other tv networks. Tmobile and Sprint are the odd pair out sure Tmobile is doing fine now but to be a player down the road a merger with Sprint might be better then we think.

    • Durandal_1707

      What spectrum does Sprint have that T-Mobile really needs, though?

      800 MHz ex-Nextel: The band is really narrow, and not as good as the 600 MHz that T-Mobile already has over most of the US.

      PCS: T-Mobile already has lots of this.

      2.6 GHz: The frequency is so high that it would propagate about as well as Wi-Fi.

      • George B

        The main value of a T-Mobile Sprint merger is that T-Mobile would be able to raise their prices closer to those of AT&T and Verizon without the loss of customers to Sprint if Sprint no longer competes on price. T-Mobile could lease spectrum, but unless Sprint disappears, T-Mobile has a harder time moving from being a discount carrier to being a full price carrier.

        Massive MIMO and beamforming can be done today under LTE Release 13 using TDD and Sprint has most of the US licenses for 2.6 GHz set up as TDD band 41. This means that a company with more money to spend than Sprint has could start offering a large part of the advantages of 5G today instead of waiting until LTE Release 15 a couple of years from now.

        Sprint only has 14 MHz of low band spectrum, but they have low band licenses covering close to 100% of the US. T-Mobile major holes in their 700 MHz licenses where regional carriers like US Cellular have the license instead.

        • Durandal_1707

          That may be an advantage to T-Mobile’s board of directors, but it sure as heck isn’t an advantage to the consumers.

        • marque2

          Why not? Seriously – how is it advantageous to anyone to let Sprint go bankrupt – then the situation will be much worse. Besides – I am dubious Tmo would raise prices much if at all. With a new combined carrier able to fully compete with ATT and Verizon on equal terms, I would suspect the greater competition would definitely cause ATT and Verizon prices to drop.

        • The Swami

          if AT&T and Verizon wouldn’t drop prices when competing against each other (pre-TMO emergence) i can’t see how having a 3rd ‘equal’ is going to cause them to react that way today. TMO is already moving on from the discount carrier stance it needed to get customers and build a network. those days are going, going, gone along with the lower price plans and massive perks/free lines/etc. keep em if you got em cause they ain’t coming back in new iterations!

        • marque2

          So more competition causes higher prices? Interesting.

        • The Swami

          i was only pointing out Verizon and AT&T completely ignored TMO/Sprint and did not lower their own prices against each other. I don’t see what a 3rd behemoth will accomplish in ‘lowering prices’ even if logically it should happen if 2 behemoths wouldn’t do it and ignored the smaller 3rd/4th players. it smacks of collusion because logically it should have happened long before now.

        • Acdc1a

          They followed T-Mobile on almost every move including unlimited. Have you gone mad?

        • The Swami

          didn’t ever state the Big 2 didn’t follow TMO moves, even if it was kicking and screaming,. however, what the Big 2 did do was continue to charge a vastly higher fee for any services vs TMO. including against each other. almost like collusion possibly. so a bigger TMO with Sprint comes in. my opinion is the Big 2 continue to ignore TMO pricing just like they’ve done to date and keep touting their supposed advantage in network/speed/whatever the sheeple need to hear. evidently it must be working because they continue to overprice services and hold market share. i don’t pretend to understand it, and my only guess is collusion. but there it is.

        • If the T-Mobile merger doesn’t happen, Sprint will not go bankrupt. That’s not a possibility. They could merge with Dish or a cable
          provider or another entity, but they won’t just disappear, much as we’d all like that to happen. ;)

        • marque2

          Whatever you want to call it – Sprint folding into another company because it is unviable – will make Sprint a non entity.

          I actually worked for a company owned by GE that was technically insolvent. It never actually went through the bankrupcy process but GE “sold” it to another company and gave that company an addition 50 million to accept it.

          That is what will happen to Sprint in a year or two. Whatever you want to call it Sprint is an unviable entity.

        • There are a variety of possibilities, but to say that if they don’t merge with T-Mobile that Sprint will go bankrupt or cease to exist is far from certain. T-Mobile was in worse shape than Sprint is now when they made their own come back… proving Sprint just needs competent leadership.

        • I hate to generalize but it seems Sprint is unable to attract talent to run the business in Kansas.

          Marcello is in Miami, Masayoshi bought a home in Silicon Valley…

        • Well and Marcello is far from “talent”… total fail.

        • bkat11

          But T-Mobile has enough 600mhz where the holes in 700 mhz doesn’t really matter

      • Mike

        Sprint has Spectrum believe it or not a lot in areas where Tmobile doesn’t have a signal or is stuck on Edge . Tmobile will convert the Spectrum to GSM and will have coverage to compete with Verizon and ATT.

        • KMB877

          2G!? AT&T does not provide 2G anymore and Verizon will stop the GSM service late 2019. And, GSM service on 2.6 GHz, won’t be efficient.

        • SirStephenH

          I’ve found EDGE to mainly be an issue with older phones.

          T-Mobile has EDGE in the guard bands which doesn’t really take spectrum from anything else and it’s trying to get rid of 3g (UMTS, HSPA+) so the spectrum would probably go directly to LTE or 5g.

      • 2.6GHz has a range of abour 4-8 miles; and less if NLOS.

      • SirStephenH

        800Mhz: Would be a nice addition to the low end which is where they need spectrum most. It’s also probably the first to go if they’re forced to sell off assets by the FCC.

        600Mhz: T-Mobile has licenses covering the entire US.

        PCS: More is better. Merging both networks will nearly double the user base. This will require nearly double the spectrum, plus you have to think about possible future growth.
        Band 2 (T-Mobile) is actually a subset of band 25 (Sprint) so T-Mobile could shutter band 2 in favor of band 25 which would simplify things.

        2.5Ghz: You can’t compare this with WiFi. The transmit power on both of the bands that WiFi uses (2.4Ghz and 5GHz) are extremely limited by law (WiFi would be useless without this due to congestion and interference). 2.5Ghz can be transmitted at a much higher level. Plus 5g…

        • SirStephenH

          They would only really need Sprint’s spectrum if they merged with Sprint though.

          Dish would be much more complimentary, spectrum wise. Dish’s two main bands, 66 and 71, are being deployed by T-Mobile right now. Most of it could be deployed fairly easily and comparatively cheaply.

      • Zach Chadwick

        Sprint has high frequency spectrum that could be allocated for the deployment of 5G. While some may argue that high frequencies are essentially useless, since they don’t travel as far, they would be amazing for small cell sites. Think of parking lots, or along highways, with emergency calling booths, indoor malls w/ poor reception. The applications are limitless with Sprint’s Spectrum.

    • Couple things wrong with your statement. (or they could be completely correct).

      First, I’m not sure Verizon and AT&T were given “tons of spectrum for free”.

      Secondly, T-Mobile is still owned by the German Government, Verizon/AT&T are primarily owned by shareholders; which often include Union Pensions, Cities and other companies. AT&T/Verizon are often selected for pension investors because they’re union-based, offer a dividend, and have a history that dates back to the 1800s and the founding of the DOW Jones Industrial Average and the stockmarket itself. They won’t be going anywhere. To compare, sometime around the 1945 timeframe, the US leveled Germany, and this included its post offices and phone networks. Because those industries seemed complementary, the US invested in combining the two together when the country was rebuilt.

      As for AOL-TimeWarner, that was bound to happen. Many people forget that in the late 2000s, Warner Music Group started suing college-age kids, often 500 at a time. However, and eventually, questions were asked if AOL-TimeWarner was suing its own cable customers and also if that was somehow preferential. Still, there was a day when Warner Music Group was willing to fund, and sue customers of its product.

      Comcast isn’t buying Verizon. Your nuts. However, Comcast has hands-down the best smartphone rateplan available in the industry.

  • marque2

    Yes, because it will be much better for consumers when Sprint goes bankrupt.

    • Derek

      That won’t happen. Softbank has too much money invested in the company. They would lose a ton if they just let it die.

      • marque2

        Have you been watching Sprint since Softbank’s takeover? Are they better off or worse off? Even big companies shut down poor performing divisions when the loss is too great.

        • SirStephenH

          At this point a Sprint failure would be on SoftBank. Sprint was horrible before their take over but SoftBank has refused to invest in Sprint, instead choosing to watch it wither and die.

  • Alex Zapata

    Eh, not sure how much I believe that.

  • (J²)

    T-Mobile and Sprint realize consumers have a choice on who they subscribe to. With 3 major carriers, that “choice” may or may not go out the window. As 5G rolls out and T-Mobile’s network continues to improve, the cost of service will naturally increase over time BUT if they have no incentive to be a low cost carrier, they can end that at any time.

    If they acquire Sprint, by 2020, the combined network would be untouchable by Verizon & AT&T which means they will be superior not on par and with spectrum being a finite resource, there would be no way for Verizon and AT&T to compete in both infrastructure and price. It could essentially be touch passing (or snatching lol) in this case.

    That is advocating for the concerns but on the other hand, this does benefit customers but the FCC and DOJ would have to impose a lot of regulations to ensure the uncarrier doesn’t discover carrier ways.

  • Zach Mauch

    Realistic thinking and trying not to get political here.

    Sprint has been loosing money for years. I know thing have been getting better recently, but that is only because they cut prices to the bone. I honestly can’t see them being able to stay out of bankrupcy moving forward.

    If that is the case, then the question you have to ask is what is better for the consumer, to have sprint go bankrupt and have the big 3 fight among the leftovers or have a combined Sprint and T-Mobile challenge Verizon and AT&T.

    I’m not sure I can say, but to me it seems like 3 equal competitors is better than letting sprint die on the vine. AT&T buying T-Mobile would have been terrible for consumers, but this seems like it would be overall positive.

    Anyway, I’m no economist and I trust that if the justice dept says no-go (especially in this administration) it probably has good reason.

    • Chris Ferry

      “Lose” and “loose” are different words.

    • Nearmsp

      A new buyer comes in to buy Sprint at the reduced price. Sprint being badly managed can be no excuse to punish US consumers in the form of eventually having higher prices.

  • PCBob

    I hope it is approved. I have Sprint and with the merger I would hopefully get a lot better coverage and I don’t think that it would hurt having them merge. Even with a merger they will still be smaller than att and verizon.

    • Tony Chen

      na sprint sucks we dont need them.

    • Well, the great news about a merger like this, (because Sprint has been incredibly focused on the technology with it’s Ericsson outsourced network engineering contract) is that T-Mobile will be able to lay off virtually all of its engineering staff once T-Mobile standardizes platforms on Ericsson.

      Sprint was able to save an incredible amount of money when it adopted SON and Self-Organizing Network Technologies.

      When Sprint/T-Mobile is approved, T-Mobile will also be able to perform a round of layoffs shortly following Neville Ray’s retirement. T-Mobile will be able to clean house; further lower operational costs; increase rateplan pricing and invest into R&D to introduce new ways to cap customer usage. With all the customer re-education required, Andrew Christou and T-Mobile can (and should) take over the world and buy all the ad slots on whatever broadcast radio and TV airwaves remain.

      • Tony Chen

        are you insane do you know how much sprint network sucks? they couldnt make me use sprint network even if its free fort a year..

        • Actually yes.

          While driving across Wyoming last month, Sprint roamed on Verizon, whereas the T-Mobile didn’t have any signal at all.

          And actually, Sprint does have their “Free Unlimited” rateplan for one year; and the promotion was extended through the end of this month. On the Sprint “Free Unlimited” plan you’ll enjoy unlimited data, tethering, talk, text. The plan is an “online” only rateplan.

          Sprint isn’t paying a salesperson a commission to sell the plan, so if you go to the store, the Sprint salesman will deny it even exists. If you do a google search for “Sprint Free Unlimited” you’ll find the website to sign up for a year’s service for free.

          The only catch is that you need an unlocked phone for it.

          But yeah, T-Mobile didn’t have service for what seemed like 500 miles whereas Sprint did work. I watched the hillarious movie “In The Loop” on DirecTVNow while in the back seat.

        • Brandon

          But u do realize that Tmobile is building out coverage in Wyoming now don’t u?

      • Tony Chen

        lol get out with your stupid slow ass sprint network, t mobile will never get rid of its award winning engineering team who was reps[onsible turning around t mobile into a success.

    • bakgwailo

      Why not just switch to TMobile or someone else today then if their coverage sucks? No need to wait for a merger for that.

      • keepitreal25

        Because they are probably paying less with sprint until their promotional pricing ends next year

    • Nearmsp

      So you are paying less with Sprint and now want the competition to be reduced so you could personally benefit? That is not the basis for the regulators to take a decision. So no, I see no reason the regulators should approve a major reduction in competition in the US wireless market. Our prices are still the highest in the world.

  • SirStephenH

    As a T-Mobile customer I say good. Block the f*** out of this merger.

    • Sharti24

      Why? You’re already a customer so your price plan is locked in. You get the advantage of extra cell towers and more spectrum for higher internet speeds. More customers coming from Sprint will be a good thing for tmobile to compete with the other two

      • bakgwailo

        Because it would be one less competitor in a market that is already an oligopoly? Just because someone is on a current plan does not mean their carrier needs to continue grandfathering them in instead of forcing them onto new plans.

        • keepitreal25

          T-Mobile never had to grandfather you into any plan , that’s just something they did , there is nothing about this merger that would harm you as a T-Mobile customer and until someone can give me a logical explanation as to why ? I will keep replying to people in this manner . Sprint is collecting dust , T-Mobile doesn’t even mention Sprint as competition anymore , the fcc doesn’t seem keen on letting them merge with a cable company so this is the next best thing roll with it , what are you going to do join Verizon or att as if they aren’t the real monopolies in this industry . Keep it real!

        • Sharti24

          Also Sprint is on the verge of bankruptcy in the near future. They are doing this $1 for a year of service promo to get a bunch of customers and that makes them look good when they merge with someone. Come on now, why would Sprint offer $1 per year service if something wasn’t up?

        • keepitreal25

          AWESOME POINT! people aren’t understand the crap sprint is offering is not sustainable and they will eventually go bankrupt at which point att/verizon can swoop in without the FCC batting an eye , as at that point, sprint is gone anyway!

      • Nearmsp

        Not really. Less competition higher prices. T-mobile is not in the business of charity to keep reducing their plan price out of the goodness of their heart.

        • keepitreal25

          that is only true when sprint is a competitor , they won’t be a competitor for long, if the premium value tmobile will pay for sprint stock is just market value, then that should tell you sprint won’t be around for very long, as the person commented above sprint is basically giving service away , that isn’t a sustainable business model , the amount of debt they have is bad. I would ask anyone opposing this to look to the future and ask would they rather att/verizon get sprint when it goes bankrupt or let tmobile buy them now and strengthen your current provider and possibly save peoples jobs?

  • SirStephenH

    The spectrum doesn’t line up well besides band 25 (band 2 [T-Mobile] is a subset of band 25 [Sprint] so it can be dropped in favor of band 25) and they have nearly identical coverage. This deal is for customers, plain and simple.

    Dish would be a better fit network and diversification wise. They have the second largest band 71 (600MHz) holdings right behind T-Mobile and both their B71 holdings compliment each other well, their band 66 holdings would work nicely with T-Mobile’s band 4 and band 66 (B4 is a subset of B66), and they’d be able to compete better against Verizon and AT&T from a content standpoint.

    • Sharti24

      They can hoard the spectrum they dont use from the merger and utilize it for 5/6G

      • Joe

        LOL 6G! where did you hear about 6G? We don’t even have 5G and you’re talking about 6G

    • Joe

      Umm they actually don’t have the same coverage. I have a sprint phone and a t-mobile phone and sprint has coverage in places that t-mobile does not have a decent amount of times. But they of course overlap for the most part. The purpose of the merger would be to use sprints spectrum for 5G since its very good spectrum for 5G.

  • tony77

    T-Mobile is a sustainable, growing, business. If it needs more spectrum to continue that growth then Dish is a better target. The only reason to merge with Sprint is to reduce competition. If the merger is blocked, Sprint won’t go bankrupt – when the share price drops like a stone they’ll become a target of other market entrants such as Comcast. The industry is moving to vertical consolidation, which means T-Mobile needs one or more of the following: devices, O/S, content distribution, content creation. Sprint offers none of these, and Masa Son has not made much of an effort to add them.

    • Joe

      Yes it will not go bankrupt since as you said before that happens i’m sure someone else will be interested at the right price but by the time a company buys sprint that knows something about networking and fixes their network it will be too late. So I think it’s best that t-mobile gets this deal and we will have 3 carriers that are on the same level.

    • marque2

      Dish is not for sale and Tmo couldn’t afford.to buy them out.

      • Nearmsp

        No one is buying anyone. Sprint and T-mobile are planning to merge. Nothing stopping Dish and T-mobile from merging. So advocating reduction of competition because Sprint is not being managed properly is a give away to Mr. Son of Softbank at the cost of US consumers who will face less choice and higher prices.

        • marque2

          You don’t get it. To merge both companies have to be friendly and want to merge. Dish doesn’t want to be bought out so in order for Tmo to acquire them they would have to do a hostile takeover which requires they buy shares with cash on the open market.

          And the rest of your statement makes no sense so I can’t comment.

  • Sharti24

    I hope this merger goes through. Sprint is on its way out and what would happen to them if they file for bankruptcy? Dont say “Dish should merge with them” no, dish isn’t interested in mobile wireless

    • Tim S

      Investing time and money needed in merging two companies that don’t have much in common in spectrum and in business practice will only stifle t mobiles progress and stall costumer growth momentum.

      • Acdc1a

        The actual merging of technology is the easy piece of this puzzle.

    • Nearmsp

      If they file for bankruptcy, their assets will be picked up by their creditors. There is no role for the government to pick winners and losers and distort the free market. Some foreign company or private investors could buy off Sprint. If Mr. Sohn of softbank, Japan was dumb to buy Sprint, US consumers should not have to bail his investment and prevent him from declaring bankruptcy and getting a hair cut that he deserves to get.

      • Acdc1a

        The spectrum assets alone would be a boon to the creditors. It’s the real reason not to worry about a Sprint bankruptcy. They have enough spectrum holdings that they can hang on for YEARS.