Update: Bloomberg is reporting Dan Hesse will step down and be replaced in an announcement tomorrow, during which the plan to end pursuit of T-Mobile will also be discussed.

This one's short and sweet, folks: Sprint has dropped its efforts to purchase T-Mobile according to the Wall Street Journal, citing the perpetually present "people familiar with the matter." According to said persons, SoftBank and Sprint decided the merger would simply be too difficult to accomplish in the face of federal regulators, an experience AT&T became all too familiar with back in late 2011, to the tune of a $4 billion severance fee.


Sprint was purchased by Japanese firm SoftBank in fall of 2012, and has been under the guidance of SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son since the middle of last year. It has been rumored for some time that Son was interested in acquiring T-Mobile and its spectrum, as well as the ever-enthusiastic John Legere. Regulators never commented officially upon the never-publicly-proposed merger, but the industry as a whole seemed to feel strongly that FTC and FCC approval were a long shot after AT&T's failed buyout.

The deal would have bolstered the two companies' subscriber numbers greatly, though even combined T-Mobile and Sprint wouldn't have matched AT&T or Verizon's customer bases. The theory, though, was that a Voltron'ed T-MoSprintBankLegereThing(TM) would have had the leverage and spectrum to force AT&T and Verizon into more competitive pricing and service positions, with the argument being that T-Mobile and Sprint alone would never have the power to challenge the two heavyweight incumbents.

Still, T-Mobile is unquestionably in an upswing right now, gaining subscribers and slowly clawing its way out of debt, the carrier is quickly making a name on its metro-focused, blazing-fast 4G LTE service, while Sprint remains the almost classic definition of a typical American wireless operator: towers, towers everywhere, but nowhere to get a decent downlink.

T-Mobile has also flatly declined a bid from French firm Iliad to buy out the company for $15 billion, though Iliad is allegedly regrouping with Dish Network, Cox Cable, and Charter Cable to put together a more aggressive offer. We'll see what happens, but it's hard to deny that T-Mobile is America's Wireless Cool Kid right now, blasting through the business models and limitations of the powers-that-be.

WSJ, Fierce Wireless