13
Dec
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Gather your grains of salt, but the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Sprint is considering making a buyout offer for T-Mobile come the first half of 2014, to the tune of $20 billion. While that probably sounds good on paper, it's not nearly as much AT&T offered back in 2011, at a whopping $39 billion - making Sprint's bid half of what AT&T thought T-Mobile was worth 2 years ago.

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But don't write this off as fantasy just yet, as even John Legere, the Un-CEO, is on the record as saying he's open to deals, including with Sprint.

It's important to remember that for all the fanfare T-Mobile gets, it's a tiny carrier in comparison to behemoths like AT&T and Verizon. Sprint and T-Mobile combined would make up a subscribership just under 100 million customers, still under the number AT&T has currently, at 109 million.

And that's the reason for the interest in a deal, supposedly: Sprint is fed-up playing bush league in the wireless business, and apparently thinks adding T-Mobile's infrastructure and subscriber base to its own could create a serious 3rd option to AT&T and Verizon, both of whom have not only more customers, but much more powerful, widespread networks.

How likely would a Sprint-Tmo deal be once regulatory hurdles are considered? It's hard to say, but if Sprint can make a compelling case for stagnation in the wireless business, who knows - the FCC and DoJ may just go for it. Granted, this is all just a rumor, albeit one from a pretty reliable source.

Wall Street Journal

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

    You have your numbers wrong. Sprint Communications Corporation has around 52 million subscribers right now. T-Mobile US, Inc has 45 million subscribers. A combination of the two would put them at 97 million subscribers, which is very close to AT&T and Verizon Wireless in subscriber counts.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Whoops. Apparently people know their T-Mobile and Sprint subscriber numbers off hand pretty well.

    • remister

      Kudo-kun, miss ya at the TMOnews website!

      • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

        Heh. I've not been around much, haven't I?

  • Willie D

    Actually the combined Sprint and TMobile would have just about 93 million+ customers

  • Kenny O

    Not sure how I feel about this, but I do like that this news seemed to cause the TMO stock price to shoot up today.

  • Tommy Sanders

    I like too see that deal. I would assume TMobile would over time would drop GSM or Would Sprint drop CDMA?

    • TheOozyMan

      seeing as GSM is more future proof I think its safe to say they would drop CDMA

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

        Sprint is already using GSM - LTE is a GSM technology. Sprint will eventually kill legacy CDMA support, just as Verizon will.

    • Daldain

      GSM is the world standard, I would hope that they keep them separate and add GSM to the current Sprint CDMA towers thus greatly increasing the GSM coverage for T-Mobile.

    • Brad

      I bet sprint would drop cdma... it's dated technology... but tmobile is tiny, so who knows???? I bet we'd get weird hybrids like verizon.

    • RonD

      No, CDMA is a dead-end. Sprint is very poorly managed. It took them years to merge the Nextel network after they bought them.

      • Gabernasher

        And they got bought, so, their old ways are null and void.

  • cabbiebot

    I wonder what the technical implications of this would be, vis a vis spectrum licensing and phone hardware

    • http://androidandme.com/ Taylor Wimberly

      Look at the T-Mobile merger with MetroPCS for an example. They are starting to do away with the CDMA network and use that spectrum to expand their LTE network to 20x20MHz. I suspect you would see something similar where they just combine the best spectrum for LTE. We already have phones that can run on all the networks and LTE Advanced will let them pair up pretty much any spectrum.

      • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com/ Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

        CDMA could fall away very quickly, since over 80% of released phones in the last two years support quad-band GSM and UMTS on PCS. Since T-Mobile has been deploying UMTS on PCS, Sprint's spectrum would merely hasten the effort, since Sprint has 2x10MHz or more PCS in virtually every market.

  • Chippah

    GTFO with this, Sprint has zero coverage and unlimited data dosent matter when its
    56k speeds..

    Not to mention check out their plans. They need to lay off the pipe,

    Sprint is MORE EXPENSIVE THAN VERIZON.
    T-mo is not interested in expanding their coverage into rural areas,
    Legere and his office told me this via twitter.

    • Brad

      Yeah, but he wrote me a letter saying he wants this to happen!

      • Chippah

        I just wanted a reach-a-round or sumphin.. tss tss

        • Lamar

          Homerun Chippah!

  • iamover13

    I'm cool with this as long as they eventually go GSM only.

    • ins0mn1a

      that is happening with or without the merger. sprint is building their lte network, and i see no other option for them but to slowly move away from cdma, just like verizon is doing (voice over lte etc). maintaining cdma+lte network is a major pain in the ass (those two things were never meant to work together), and i am quite sure sprint would drop their cdma network today if that was feasible. it will take some time though.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

        I can't wait. It'll be nice to (hopefully) be able to buy unlocked devices that cover all LTE frequencies and be able to hop around to different carriers whenever you want.

  • Dean Politis

    Say it ain't so! Sprint will only ruin T-Mobile.

    • Gabernasher

      Upvoted, however Sprint did just get bought out, so the Sprint we know isn't the Sprint we have.

      • Freak4Dell

        As long as Hesse is in charge, the Sprint we have now will be the Sprint we always have.

    • Whyzor

      T-Mobile has way more growth & potential than Sprint. With its global GSM standard, unlocked, no-contract plans & phones. Sprint is too closed, just like Verizon & AT&T. T-Mobile is the standout here and can surive and grow on its own (maybe even overtake Sprint).

  • http://www.odysseyforge.com/ Matt B

    Should be the other way around. Sprint should be bought out by TMO. That would be nice, otherwise - forgettaboutit. ;-)

    • master94

      Think of it this way. Sprint users might finally get a signal.

      • Tim Norris

        (I'm starting to feel like a sprint apologist now...) BUT Sprint has been changing their ways for a while, so Ye do shake it up, the difference is they are having to work from a negative value to get back to fully changing the industry like they were years ago. Currently the biggest improvements they have made to the wireless industry is that they are very comforting to MVNOs, who are making huge changes that will hopefully change the industry. (See TING, Republic Wireless, Virgin Mobile, et all)

        As far as their crappy signal goes [I agree, I am getting -101dB right now, so about 1.25 bars of signal, complete loss of signal is dB<-110), with the rollout of LTE, they are getting significantly better. Especially since Sprint's Spark tri-band LTE launched, my brother went from signal <= -106dB at his house to a very useable -70 to -85 dB (about 3-4 bars). THe biggest problem that has been making them crappy for the last 2-3 years has been the decision to change from WiMax to LTE, they have to first redesign the tower layout, then get the hardware, then install the hardware. And add to that the phasing out of the iDEN network (Push To Talk tech used by Nextel) at the end of the contracts for the technologies, it made sense from a business point of view to just wait and start the real improvements when removing the old antennas.

        Don't get me wrong, I think they have done a horrible job explaining it to their customers, and future proofing the phones so their consumers can understand/benefit when the network is actually improved.

        • master94

          Well I agree with you Sprint is improving it's network especially after being bought by softbank, None the less expect people such as myself to keep making fun of them until they can compete against Tmobile at least in coverage. No one expects them to be able to take on VZW or At&t yet.

      • Shawn Cheever

        I live out in the middle of the nowhere and have LTE on Sprint. Guess I'm just lucky! =)

        • John Smith

          you are f'ing lucky!! I am in the middle of Seattle and I get 1 or 2 LTE bars. Of course 3G with 4 bars > LTE with 1 bar. Yet the phone insists on keeping the LTE connection going. I wish I could disable LTE !!!

          • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

            Man it was nice back in the early Evo days where you had a 4G widget that came stock on your main homescreen. More control is always better.

          • Danny Lewis

            It was done that way because WiMax 4g was not integrated into the other radios and a huge battery hog. Lte is more efficient and integrated. Also, lte is more than a speed bump, it is the future and will replace cdma and gsm legacy networks and eventually carry voice.

          • http://www.facebook.com/lucyparanormal Daniel Tiberius

            LTE is integrated now, but they didn't have it on the same chip at first. Regardless we should have that control either way.

        • Fifth313ment

          That's a requirement for a Sprint LTE tower going up, middle of nowhere, check! A town of 50, we have LTE there! Another town just incorporated, we have to get LTE there pronto! Miami, they can wait, New York, let them rot on 3G (aka 1X). LOL, Sprint is literally a joke, no joke!

      • Fifth313ment

        ROTGLMFAO! LOLOLOLOL! That was classic! I recently switched (ran) from Sprint to T-mobile and I should have done it years before! I can actually use my internet!

  • jose Luis barajas

    SprinT-Metro pcs? 

    • Gabernasher

      Forgot Nextel

      • danny

        Sprint-NexTro... We're missing some smaller legacy components too I believe... They should just rebrand the whole thing as T-Mobile, put T-Mobile management in charge, and switch to GSM...

  • Bob G

    Well, the last time the DOJ refused to allow only 3 'big' carriers in the US. I doubt they will allow this merger, but then again, they are hypocrites.

    • cmikeh2

      Last time it would've been practically a duopoly with more than 80 percent market share between two companies. Furthermore it would've created a GSM monopoly, meaning that all the GSM mvnos would have had to negotiate with a single company. As GSM is the global standard a monopoly in it is probably consisted more serious than a CDMA monopoly.

  • wideopn11

    Tmobile has been doing great imho. I just switched from Verizon last month and I haven't looked back. I'm afraid Sprint might ruin Tmobile and the progress they have been making.

  • Simon Belmont

    And I just left Sprint about 7-8 months ago for T-Mobile (couldn't be happier, BTW). How ironic.

    I would be okay with it, if it means a larger LTE footprint and that they continue T-Mobile's awesome deals and crazy features that are leaving other carriers scrambling, and they don't screw up the momentum that T-Mobile has built up for itself lately. Like I said above, I'm REALLY happy with T-Mobile, so I'd hope that pricing would be similar or better.

    • Paul

      You really think Sprint would continue T-Mobile's deals? Think again. Hundreds if not thousands of Sprint customers left for T-Mobile.
      The only thing Sprint hopes to do, is eliminating a competitor with better deals BEFORE they get too big to wipe them out instead.

      • Simon Belmont

        I didn't say I thought it would happen. I said I would hope that it would happen.

        But yes, I understand that Sprint just wants to engulf T-Mobile to become a larger third place player in the market and take all of its spectrum in the process. Considering how lowly Sprint is rumored to be valuing T-Mobile (vs how much AT&T did), I don't see this really going through anyway unless the pot is sweetened a lot.

  • TSON1

    No no no no no. T-Mobile does not need to be under Sprint's awful management - the whole reason T-Mobile is doing so good is because of their strategizing by their management. Putting them under Sprint would ruin it.

  • Nathaniel Webb

    NOOOOOOOOOO

    • Nathaniel Webb

      OOOOOOOOO

      • Nathaniel Webb

        OOO.

        • Cuvis

          OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO*huff*OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOIOO

          • http://seapip.com/ Thomas Gladdines

            oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

          • jesuguru

            That upset? Find yourself a good MVNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  • mustbepbs

    This is awful. This is worst case scenario, apocalypse material.

    NO.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umDr0mPuyQc

  • Nightfall

    I hope this doesn't happen. Sprint has crappy service everywhere I go.

    • ConCal

      We'll its not like they would get rid of all their T-Mobile towers and force users only to use only existing sprint towers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joeyklatzko Joseph Klatzko

    I think this is a bad idea, for the wireless industry and for the future of T-Mobile US. For starters, the bid is way undervalued. AT&T offered almost double, at $39 Billion last year, when T-Mobile was a struggling company with an unsure future. The value of their stock is up almost 60% since they first went public last year. Doesn't 20 Billion seem like a lowball?

    The matter of network compatibility, I feel, is not as big of a deal as it seems. LTE is the future, if any changes are being made, it should be LTE going forward. The increased spectrum the combined company would hold is the only true benefit for T-Mobile. Lest we forget all the bad decisions Sprint has made over the last few years? WiMax? Where was their bid for T-Mobile during the failed AT&T merger? They could have swooped in and picked up the pieces. John Legere came in and innovated in the historically stubborn US wireless market, of course they look attractive to Sprint right now.

    The only thing I'm worried about though is that John Legere had this planned all along. Make some risky moves, change the industry, and cash out real quick

    • Gabernasher

      Sprint got bought.

  • Matt Hay

    No!!!!! After 13 years, I fled from Sprint into the arms of T-Mobile......they will destroy T-Mo. The terribleness of their customer service is only rivaled by the likes of Charter Communications.

    • Fifth313ment

      Charter, try Comcast! They have their own trademark internet "meme" saying, "It's Comcraptic!" Now you know bad customer service when you end up starting your own phrase! lol

  • freedomss
  • Rob

    If Sprint's truly "fed-up playing bush league in the wireless business", then let it concentrate on delivering a solid network performance instead of just trying to buy up smaller competitors to get its subscriber base number closer to rivals AT&T and Verizon. Sprint is like a spastic Chihuahua with ADHD. It can't seem to remain focused on any one task for very long.

  • Rob

    LOL, oh yeah, Sprint can't even add my 32GB unlocked Nexus 5 to their network - despite it being engineered by LG to work on its network. I was told that Sprint would never fully guarantee that my unlocked phone would be compatible because it wasn't purchased from them. That's bullshit. The problems, as I've been told and have read is due to incompatibilities in their network infrastructure. Right now it seems that the 32GB N5 experiences trouble negotiating the handshake between CDMA and LTE, where in LTE is prioritized and calls and text may not get through. #WhatAFailure

    • Gabernasher

      What if they just go GSM, or straight LTE?

      • Rob

        That's a bit more complicated than the question suggests. My understanding is that CDMA, GSM and LTE are network technologies. Sprint and Verizon have CDMA networks currently deployed while AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM. I don't think they can "flip a switch" on this type of change, and would instead have to switch out the guts of their network hardware. As I understand it CDMA is very slowly being phased out as we move toward next generation LTE, sometimes called LTE-Advanced. I believe LTE-A will support Voice Over LTE or VoLTE. Hopefully others can chime in if I'm all wet with this explanation.

        • Gabernasher

          A lot of their phones work on GSM nowadays being world phones. It would require a lot of new hardware but Softbank has money to spare. It would be worth it to update the tech.

          • Rob

            The Softbank investment was to buy a share of control of Sprint and give it the $$ it needed to acquire Clearwire spectrum and do some catch up in the LTE rollout race. I don't think Softbank is simply going to throw more $$ on the table anytime soon. 15 billion went to the shareholders and 5 billion went to network upgrades. I honestly can't see that level of network updates happening anytime soon as Sprint is still trying to complete it's long overdue Network Vision upgrades while also trying to rollout 4G LTE.

            To switch everything over to GSM/LTE would require a complete abandonment and retooling of their CDMA infrastructure to the tune of billions in new capital investments. It would also require new agreements with handset manufacturers to put GSM radios into Sprint phones.

    • avlon

      I've had the same issue. I received a brand new 32gb Nexus 5 from the play store almost 2 weeks ago and can't activate it because Sprint claims that they are back ordered on Sim cards. I tried sharing the tip with some of the tech sites but it seems that it's not important enough for then to report it.

      • Fadakar

        I haven't even received my Nexus 5 but I already got a SIM card. I called every Sprint store that was supposed to carry them and they were all out with no clue as to when they'd get more. I went online and found their "World-Wide chat" (different from the chat at the top of sprint.com) and I asked them, they confirmed my account by my number and account PIN, asked if I wanted next-day or free shipping. I chose free which was 3-5 days, came from Louisville, Kentucky to Anaheim, California in 2 days. The envelope they sent it in weighed more than the package yet they still paid to get it out to me ASAP.

        While asking for it I asked the person what the activation process was, she told me to give them the MEID number on the box when it arrives and I should be good to go.

        • Rob

          Hopefully it will be a smooth process for you. It would be helpful also if you update this post once you're up and running successfully on Sprint with your Nexus 5. When I visited one of their local authorized resellers the day before Thanksgiving not only did they not have any SIM cards to sell, but the technician said that the network is incompatible with my current phone due to some fallback issues between CDMA and LTE. So while you might be able to activate your new phone you may still have issues with the phone not successfully negotiating the handoff between CDMA and LTE. Keep an eye out for any issues with calls and text not getting through as (as far as I understand the issue) that'll be your "heads up" of the fallback issue problem. Best of luck.

          • Fadakar

            Yeah I've actually heard about the handoff issues. LTE still hasn't officially rolled out in my area (I'll have it one day, not the next, rinse and repeat) so even now with my One I can't get a good grasp of how much of my area is blanketed in LTE.

            Needless to say, I'm a bit worried, I hope it works. If not, Google does have their return period. I'll reply to you again after I've activated it.

          • Rob

            Best of luck.

  • BigMixxx

    T mobile is just really starting to make some money good money. Sprint finally made a couple of quarters and they are starting to think merger 'of some sort'?

    Sprint can't afford it. With a market cap of 32 billion vs. T mobile's 20, AND t mobile reporting some decent numbers over the last 3 quarters -- I can't see it. I'd can see T mobile looking at a merger. Sprint would have to sell A LOT of the company to competitors....

    • Tim Norris

      Except you forget that they are owned now by Softbank Japan (their market cap of 10 billion is for their Japanese mobile operator, not the parent company), They are MUCH larger than T-Mo, so they wouldn't have a problem buying both and keeping them in some sort of competition, or merging them if they wanted to, and Softbank has a history of improving companies in a way that will make them the most money, with the least friction).

      • Paul

        "improving companies in a way that will make them the most money"
        Well, that certainly means that they won't take LESS money from the customer.

        • Tim Norris

          No, but if they want to grow market share, they need either a good network, a fast network, or a cheap network. Right now they don't have the first two really, but they can keep the third. Especially if the reason why they bought Sprint (at least if the rumors are true) is to get better market leverage with the cell phone manufactures to get better deals with them. They are the number one provider in Japan, but the market is saturated, unlike the US which is full, but still has a lot of room for growth.

        • Gabernasher

          Would you rather make $1 per customer with 100 customers or $.50 with 300?

  • Forget_you

    oh please no.. stay the hell away from tmobile! there already is a "serious" 3rd option and it is called tmobile! as if tmobiles subscriber count doesn't make it a "serious" option. as a matter of fact it is my first option. . Tmobile is gaining customers as is

  • Severo Rivera

    Noooooooooo!

  • RonD

    Please No, don't let Sprint buy T-Mobile and ruin them. I have Sprint and added a T-Mobile line a year ago and T-Mobile is much better. Just today I had no data connection on Sprint although I had a 5 bar signal. Updated profile and prl. Rebooted several times. Called to complain and they said everything was fine. Sprint has a broken network, it's been broke for 2years and is getting worse.

  • Gabernasher

    Would be excellent for N5 owners.

  • Tyler Kevin Powell

    As long as they keep T-Mobiles amazing deals and plans I will be okay. I would rather T-Mobile buy sprint

  • Evan Anderson

    Wow so much Sprint hate.... The fact is Sprint is not the same company it was. Since they were bought out they have been making major improvements in their network. THIS IS GOONG TO TAKE TIME. A T-Mobile merger will be a good thing because both companies are in a rebuilding phase.

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

    If this new company were to keep T-mo's policies and add Sprint's network, I'd be fine.

    If it happens the other way around, I'll be ditching T-mo quickly.

  • DMassey

    Please do because I was planning on switching to T-Mobile for better service anyways

  • http://chromebookguru.tumblr.com Jason C

    I left US Cellular in Bloomington/Normal, IL because they sold their market share to Sprint. I moved to T-Mobile. I don't want to have to switch carriers again.

  • Chris

    If sprint buys T-Mobile (they won't) I'd leave for AT&T

  • Paulo Clinton

    I hate Sprint!