A major wireless spectrum auction next year is set to shake up the wireless industry, and it could provide Sprint and its parent company, Japan-based SoftBank Corp., with a case for acquiring fellow carrier T-Mobile amidst concerns of further market consolidation.

In mid-2015 the FCC will auction off the 600 MHz spectrum. Why is this important? Low frequency spectrums are highly coveted because they carry signals farther than high frequency spectrums and penetrate obstacles and buildings better. This makes low frequency spectrums better for broadening coverage in suburban and rural areas, especially since they need fewer towers, making upgrading and expanding far easier. High frequency spectrums, meanwhile, do better in urban areas.

The lowest frequency currently in use is 700 MHz, and of the four major national wireless networks, only Verizon and AT&T had 700 MHz holdings until recently, when T-Mobile purchased a small section off Verizon. Sprint's lowest frequency is 800 MHz. Carriers like Sprint and T-Mobile offer decent coverage in urban areas thanks to their high frequency holdings, but are severely behind Verizon and AT&T when it comes to nationwide coverage outside cities.

The 2015 600 MHz spectrum auction will help shape the U.S. wireless market over the following years. Verizon and AT&T have far deeper pockets (and more play in an influential wireless lobby group) than Sprint and T-Mobile, and will most likely gobble up a significant amount of the auction. Without being able to expand low frequency holdings, carriers like Sprint and T-Mobile, which lack a significant nationwide footprint, face an uphill battle competing with the juggernauts that are Verizon and AT&T.

"Depending on the outcomes of the spectrum auctions, it could get a whole lot worse in terms of a handful of companies being able to tilt the field in their favor," said Matthew Hindman, a professor at George Washington University.

"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," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere in an interview on television show Bloomberg West.

"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."

Sprint agrees the only way that it can properly compete with the Verizon-AT&T "duopoly" is by scaling up, and it's for this reason that Sprint wants to buy T-Mobile. Not only will it allow Sprint and T-Mobile to combine their footprints, it would also give them the capital to acquire more spectrum and offer U.S. consumers a realistic third alternative.

"I brought the network war and price war (to Japan). I'd like to bring that to the States," SoftBank chief executive and Sprint chairman Masayoshi Son said at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to industry officials in March.

"I would like to provide an alternative to the oligopolistic situation that two-thirds of American households can only get access to one or two providers. I'd like to be a third alternative with 10 times the speed and lower price."

Even with a combined consumer base, a Sprint and T-Mobile company would have fewer subscribers than AT&T.

Still, U.S. government officials are wary of allowing such a deal to happen. The U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust division and the FCC have expressed that they aren't sold because on a move that would result only three major nationwide carriers, down from four. Both the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust division and the FCC have to approve before the deal goes through.

If the government really is woried about the U.S. wireless market becoming skewed through higher prices, then perhaps considering how competition may suffer if the largest continue to get larger is also just as valid.