So apparently this is going to happen. Although I’ve spoken out against it over and over, It’s beginning to look more and more like perennial last-place contenders T-Mobile and Sprint are going to join forces to become the country’s third-largest cell service provider. Needless to say I’m not enthusiastic.
I’ve said it before, the incompatible technologies used by these companies means 3-5 years before there’s any sort of synergy. Plus, these two companies will still need to face the fact that Verizon and AT&T have wireline footprints that give them customers for TV service, home internet, and (at least for your grandmother) landline phones. The new company will be at such a disadvantage for the first several years that I think there’s a chance they will simply fail. That would mean only two serious nationwide carriers and that’s probably not enough competition.
The jaunty folks over at BGR do a pretty good job of showing what the coverage map could look like over the next five years, and even they admit the challenges a new company could face. I think the matter’s a bit more severe than they think, but then again I’ve been known to be wrong as well.
Other than being bigger I have trouble seeing the benefit that a combined T-Mobile and Sprint company would bring. T-Mobile already has a leg up on 5G licensing and to be frank, most of Sprint’s licensing and technology is either obsolete or worthless. Sprint’s current claim to fame is that they’re cheaper, and honestly that’s not a good position for a traditional cell provider to be in. People who want lower pricing are moving to prepaid plans from AT&T and others. I just don’t see why T-Mobile’s corporate parents would want anything that Sprint has. I would think it would simply be cheaper to crush Sprint and take the subscribers they can.
So, in my typical bitter and pessimistic style, let me lay out how this is going to work.
The merger will be announced before the end of the year. CNBC claims that it will be T-Mobile’s parent company buying Sprint, not the other way around as was once rumored.
The FCC will probably rubberstamp the deal within the next 12 months, as they have been very open to other mergers that benefited stockholders over users.
If you’re a current T-Mobile user, expect some of the really outlandish things you’re doing now to stop. That bit about T-Mobile not charging you for Netflix usage? Expect that to stop because there’s really no way that would hold up to any scrutiny at all.
If you’re a current Sprint user, expect your bills to go up and even if you don’t think you need a new phone, guess what — you need a new phone. T-Mobile will dump Sprint’s ancient technology faster than a Kardashian dumps a basketball player.
Maybe by 2023, when everyone else is getting 2 gigabit internet pumped directly into their contact lenses, the combined T-Mobile/Sprint, whatever it’s called, will have caught up to where Verizon and AT&T are today. That’s if the company survives, and honestly that’s a pretty big “if.”
Obviously I’m not incredibly pumped about continuing to report on this deal, but I’ll do it. It’s all part of the sacrifices I make for all of you. So, on behalf of every migraine I will have until this nonsense is over, you’re welcome.