Sprint and T-Mobile merger could be approved real soon

t-mobile-sprint-merger-approval-nearing

It looks like T-Mobile and Sprint’s proposed merger could be getting an approval real soon. The only catch is that the two companies need to sell multiple assets in order to create a new wireless competitor. This comes from three individuals familiar with the plan.

Once the arrangement gets an approval, it could weaken the recent lawsuit that attorneys general from nine states and the District of Columbia filed this week.

Both T-Mobile and Sprint are being urged to sell valuable radio frequencies carrying data to wireless devices and a prepaid mobile service. So far, the two companies have approached Dish Network, Altice, and Charter about possibly selling Boost Mobile and Sprint spectrum. If they are successful, a settlement could be completed next week between federal regulators and the two companies.

Once the proposed merger gets approved, the two companies could have over 127 million customers. With this number, they will be more than capable of competing against the industry leaders, Verizon and AT&T.

It’s been over a year since federal regulators have been reviewing the proposed merger. They were even close to approving it, had the state attorneys general filed a lawsuit recently. Because of the lawsuit, a new roadblock was added, causing the merger to get a decision. If the two companies do decide to sell off those assets, they will definitely win the approval of the Justice Department. The attorneys general will have to reconsider the basis of their lawsuit, especially since their main concern is how the merger would increase prices since it would reduce the competition among carriers.  

According to the Justice Department’s former senior antitrust official, Gene Kimmelman, if a fourth player were to join in the picture, it would have to be a strong one. This could make it “more difficult to litigate successfully.”

Representatives from both parties have declined to comment on the issue.

Source: NYTimes

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  • dontsh00tmesanta

    So when can TMobile users enjoy Sprint spectrum

    • Sharti24

      And sprint towers

      • Hurlamania

        As soon as the merger is approved they can flip the switch and allow access 2 sprints Towers newer phones would have better support for accessing all of Sprint’s bands

        • Sharti24

          Tmobile coverage in WV is almost none existent. A lot is Att or USCC roaming. I heard sprint is pretty good in WV

        • Keith

          Awesome if true. They just ran a bunch of Sprint cell towers inside the building i work in, one of them is right by my desk. Now if I could only find a tin foil hat for protection.

    • JG

      I don’t know a lot about cell tower radios… But my semi-educated guess…

      I know they’ve talked about being able to push software updates to their new radios to upgrade them rather than having to climb up every time… If that includes being able to have them utilize Sprint’s LTE bands as well, then it’ll probably be a fairly quick transition.

      But if they can’t add frequencies to the radios already in place, then it’ll probably be more of a slower roll out like getting Band 12 has been (minus having to wait for TV stations to transition). Sprint’s network isn’t exactly known for it’s data speeds. So they’ll probably want to either transfer Sprint’s radios over to the near by T-Mo tower or get brand new radios up there… Either way, I’d imagine there’s only a finite number of tower climbing engineers who can muck about with the radios…

      Either way, individually, it’ll also come down to your phone. If it is carrier agnostic, like the Pixel line (and most other recent flagships I’d imagine) you’ll be good to go. But if it only has T-Mobile (or only Sprint) frequencies… You’ll either have to wait until the OEM can get an update certified through new T-Mo & the FCC to add the new bands to your phone and/or you’ll have to get a new phone that can use the combined new spectrum portfolio.

  • Sell boost to U.S. Cellular they need rescuing badly or even C-Spire… that’ll do

    • Sharti24

      And excess sprint spectrum as well

  • Bryck

    Money talks, bull***t walks.

  • Keith

    Make California and New York own the 4th carrier, call it Caliyork.

    • riverhorse

      Be careful what you wish for, lol. They will lose money- concurrently raising local taxes and asking for federal bailout

  • MisterListerSir

    The 4th carrier bit is a really great idea. ATT/VZW/TMO will be moving into other content delivery markets with the onset of 5G, creating more price/feature/functionality competition among the current wireline/satellite providers while that 4th entity will likely remain “just a carrier” at a lower price for the folks who don’t need/want all that extra.

    Brilliant. Not everyone needs or wants “5G” and all that comes with it (higher prices, additional “services” they don’t want, etc).

    Goodness…are the folks in charge of approving this actually looking to get the best possible outcome for consumers out of this deal?

    I can hardly believe it…

    • vrm

      I’d rather not have 5G on my handset if at all possible- I will buy phones without 5G. They are packing more power into the phones’ transmitters and at some point, there WILL be truth to the phones frying one’s brain.

      5G is OK for IOT and fixed services such as wireless internet or autos etc. 5G can replace wifi- OK by me. There is not reason for 5G to be present in a device that you put next to your brain.

      • MisterListerSir

        there WILL be truth to the phones frying one’s brain.

        No. There won’t be.

        The type of radiation (which is entirely different than say, an x-ray) would have to be HUNDREDS of times more powerful than any phone could produce in order to have any negative effects whatsoever.

      • Red

        Your tinfoil hat will protect you.

    • Sean sorlie

      Lets just go ahead and make AT&T and Verizon divest to make that 4th carrier, because if this is approved those 2 are still much larger. This is about offering TRUE competition to the big two. I do not think people understand how large AT&T and Verizon actually are.

      • MisterListerSir

        ATT and VZW have nothing in this deal. There’s no legal way they could possibly do what you suggest.

        It’s not just “the big two” anymore. The market is changing – they are competing against more than just the other carriers now. Plenty of room for a T-Mo+Sprint sized player.

        • Sean sorlie

          I totally understand this, and i agree unless regulators want to break up AT&T AGAIN, but this is not going to happen anytime soon. My point is that even if T-Mo and Sprint are allowed to combine without conditions, there is still a large size difference especially when you consider more than just wireless customer base. If there is room for a 4th carrier to come in and change things, then great. The FCC can do a buyback on unused spectrum(DISH and others) and wholesale it to someone else.

  • riverhorse

    The overall pro-merger picture doesn’t look bad at all. And Amazon Boost Dish ? competing will also ensure the divested assets will fetch a price higher than a ham sandwich.

    On a federal level, the states’ action will be perceived as nothing more than a local lib kook annoyance du jour- among several ongoing ones competing to be the most far left possible- so it won’t derail merger approval.

    Another example of a multistate moneygrab making the rounds is to charge out of state corporations an extra tax based on the amount of business done in the individual state- proportionate to their overall profit. Half the revenue collected would be used fund new clean energy emissions projects.
    Taking one state, NY, as an example, it’s really hard to not be cynical to the point of wanting to take up arms. Every single subway station line makeover of the last two decades has suffered cost overruns as high as 6 billion each (this much for a single train station that already existed, not even a new one!). In each case public outrage has forced each project to hastily open as is “with missing portions and features” after all additional funds were cut off.

    Basically, regarding this proposed merger and the overall regulatory tax picture, states that have raised taxes and regulatory fees regs to onerous levels are enduring corporate and private citizen flight to more income-friendly states… ergo revenue. Now their corrupt pols are outraged and looking to replace lost funds from whomever possible.

    Re this merger, look for an announced settlement where the new combined carrier possibly announces paying higher state fees and or funds some public project for this 9 state group.
    When you feel back the onion’s layers, all this action is, is a moneygrab. Supposedly the permitted mergees AND the private contract bid winners (for whatever project the mergee extortioned funds go to) will kick back jobs, gifts and campaign contributions to the placated pols officials involved. This is how other industries like space and defense work, why should this one be any different.
    George Washington warned us about this future threat. And Ben Franklin bookended by warning of being wary of the politician who tried to convince us to allow laws limiting freedoms in the name of defense and the public good.

    The last three sets of NY State Speaker & President were drummed out for corruption. Only one barely avoided prison- Nadler. And on the contrary thank his lucky stars, got kicked up to the US House, where to boot he is now chairing a committee at odds with Trump. You can see him on TV regularly chastising the President’s integrity. (Whether pro or anti Trump is not the point here- you just can’t make this scenario up. You couldn’t sell should a movie script.)

  • vrm

    It is a win-win as follows-

    If Dish and or others buy the assets, including tens of thousands of towers that the merger will shut down, they get to have a network on the go- it usually takes lot of time for approval to build towers so this is a godsend for Dish which was dragging its feet because of this. Also, the towers have most of the equipment (servers, routers etc) and the back haul configured ! For t-mobile, they can get cash for these towers etc.

    Buyer may also get some spectrum (details unknown). For t-mobile, they have plenty of mid band to spare. I don’t know about low band spectrum. I hope they keep the 800 mhz nationwide (and the 600 mhz as well). T-mobile gets cash.

    Dish/buyer also gets millions of subs. Again, t-mobile gets cash.

    Both sides benefit and consumers get to have the 4th carrier as well.

    • SirStephenH

      A couple of problems with that…

      1) Carriers own very few towers themselves, they’re almost entirely leased from third parties. Leases can be sold and transferred though.

      2) Pretty much all of Sprint’s hardware needs to be torn out and replaced due to federal regulations, deals with the federal government, and age and usefulness of the equipment. This makes acquiring Sprint’s old cell locations not that attractive.

      The band 71 is T-Mobile’s and is the center to its future plans so it’s not going to give that up. Unfortunately as much as T-Mobile needs additional low-band spectrum Sprint’s band 26 will probably be on the chopping block.

  • Kevin

    This is terrible for the consumer if merger approves.

    • Sharti24

      Yeah all those extra sprint towers and extra spectrum for fast data speeds will be terrible. Prices will go up regardless over time if the merger goes through or not but thats the price to pay for better coverage/speeds

      • Kevin

        There won’t be many extra Sprint tower to use, eventually nearby Sprint tower will be decommissioned after merger unless the tower has very cheap lease. T-mobile doesn’t need Sprint’s spectrum. They recently bought 600 MHz Nationwide spectrum, and millimeter wave spectrum. There is the 3.4 GHz spectrum auction coming up, why don’t they bid on that instead of eliminate a competitor?

        • Sharti24

          They dont need sprints spectrum? Thats one of the main reasons tmobile wants the merger. They need the 2.5 ghz for 5G. MM travels like 400 feet

        • Kevin

          When most phone comes with 5g support, they can then phase out 4G LTE and then reallocate spectrum for 5G.

        • SirStephenH

          Band 41 has higher possible speeds than T-Mobile’s existing spectrum but it also has the decreased coverage and penetration of higher spectrum. T-Mobile trys to make everyone think that it could simply add band 41 to its existing tower network and it’ll work out fine but its network simply isn’t built for such low range spectrum.

          mmwave’s max distance is normally considered to be 1,500 feet. Verizon has done real world trials though that takes that up to 3,000 feet (line of sight) and outer wall and window penetration at a third of that distance.

        • marque2

          Not necessarily true – as an example between Yuma and Gila AZ TMobile has access to two towers and coverage sucks. Sprint has 5 towers in that region. With access to the leases you are telling me TMobile will just shut all the towers down to keep crappy coverage? You dreaming?

        • Kevin

          T-Mobile won’t shut down all of Sprint’s towers. They will shut down towers that are too close to each other and those with higher tower lease fees. They will avoid duplicate towers around same area, so they don’t have to pay twice. They will make decisions base on what saves them money and providing good coverage.

        • marque2

          Sounds like a great plan for TMobile, Sprint and consumers.

        • Kevin

          Unfortunately, the money saved by shutting down towers will not be passed onto consumers, but will be passed to stock holders and employee bonuses. T-Mobile does plan to raise prices after merger.

      • SirStephenH

        There’s not going to be a ton more towers added by Sprint like you seem to think. T-Mobile covers virtually everywhere Sprint does so only a relatively small number of “keep” sites will be held onto. Coverage will improve a little in a few places but nothing major overall.

  • s38uqsid

    The vast majority of the nation’s cell towers are NOT owned by wireless carriers.

    https://www.rcrwireless.com/20101102/network-infrastructure/towers/top-10-tower-companies

    • Eric A

      Exactly. Wireless carriers lease space on existing towers owned by companies in the tower owning business.

      • marque2

        So? TMobile will have easy access to Sprint tower lease contracts.

        • Eric A

          Yes but many of the towers with Sprint panels on them already have T-Mobile panels on them too so the value would be questionable. If you look at coverage maps, T-Mobile already covers Sprint’s areas (because Sprint’s coverage is so small) so getting more real estate on Sprint towers isn’t a help. What T-Mobile wants are Sprint’s customers and spectrum.

      • SirStephenH

        Leases can be sold and transferred.

  • VapidRapidRabbit

    Hopefully it’s not approved. T-Mobile just wants to eliminate a competitor. They will launch 5G with or without Sprint, the same way AT&T built a vast 4G network without gobbling up T-Mobile. Sprint can remain the low-cost competitor, since their service is shoddy.

    • Sharti24

      And when they file for bankruptcy then what?

      • Acdc1a

        Dish probably sweeps in and buys them for pennies on the dollar. AT&T and Verizon likely won’t be permitted to bid on the assets….

        • Sharti24

          Ok so let sprint merge with tmobile to avoid that hassle

      • Nearmsp

        Shareholders (mainly Japanese Soft bank and the flamboyant CEO Mr. Son) take a hit an some one buys the company for a a real bargain basement price, just like Chrysler was picked up for free by Fiat.

        • marque2

          But this way a company that really needs the spectrum can have Sprint rather than Verizon buying the spectrum just to stuff it to spite TMobile.

        • Kevin

          I don’t think SoftBank will allow Sprint to go bankrupted since they are the majority owner and they don’t want to take a hit.

      • SirStephenH

        *if

  • BBSB_2.1

    This sucks

  • Reagan1

    Good, get this chit over with and add a new, legit 5g competitor to the “big 2”. Fine, sell Boost and then watch Boost/Dish come together for a 4th competitor, as well as the other cable cos (Comcast, etc.) joining the party.

  • Jay Holm

    Good! This process has taken way, way too long!!! Hopefully by the end of the year, T-Mobile will start carrying devices that support both companies combined spectrum!

    • SirStephenH

      Most of T-Mobile’s devices already support Sprint’s spectrum and have for years.

  • Philip

    Less competition, higher fees next time Not wise!