Sprint and T-Mobile Merger Not Favorable with US, T-Mobile CEO Legere Changes Tune
As the mobile market grows more competitive, wireless networks are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve their situation against behemoths Verizon Wireless and AT&T, the two largest carriers in the United States. Recent rumblings indicate that Sprint is interested in merging with T-Mobile, but the road might not be so easy, according to new details.
A new Bloomberg Businessweek report reveals that the U.S. Justice Department has some qualms with a potential Sprint and T-Mobile merger. According to the Bloomberg report, "Justice Department officials weren't convinced" by Sprint's argument that a merger with T-Mobile would allow the nation's third and fourth largest carriers to better compete with Verizon and AT&T.
The meeting between the U.S. Justice Department antitrust officials and Sprint board members Masayoshi Son and Dan Hesse took place in January. Sprint owner SoftBank Corp. and T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom AG have been in talks for some time now, with the first whispers of a Sprint and T-Mobile merger appearing back in December.
The news is sure to be a setback, and indicative of a 2011 decision by the Justice Department when a potential AT&T and T-Mobile merger was shot down.
A large part of the Justice Department's concerns seem to stem from the fact that T-Mobile customers enjoy the lowest average cost per month of any carrier at $120 a month, according to a Cowen and Company study. Antitrust officials described T-Mobile as a "self-described 'challenger brand,' that historically has been a value provider" in the 2011 decision, and many fear that a merger with Sprint would throw a wrench in T-Mobile's new, budget-minded "Uncarrier" plans that have done away with contracts and offered customers with more upgrades.
Sprint has reportedly received positive feedback from banks regarding the $31 billion merger, leaving most of the legwork left in the field of semantics.
On the T-Mobile end, CEO John Legere seems to have changed his tune concerning the proposed merger. After initially opposing the merger, Legere seemed far more interested, and supportive, of the deal in a recent interview on television show Bloomberg West.
"If the government wants us to have a competitive environment, you are going to make sure that the duopoly doesn't use their prowess to crush the little guys and have this sub-1 GHz spectrum be moved all to them," Legere said during the interview.
"We're all going to need better scale and capability. The question starts to be: How do you take the maverick and supercharge it? We either need more spectrum and capability, a lot more investment, or we need consolidation."
What do you think of a Sprint and T-Mobile merger? Do you fear rates will go up? And what are your thoughts on there being only three major national carriers instead of four? Let us know in the comments section below.
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