FCC Formally Approves Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

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The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday formally approved the $26 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. The approval was the last regulatory hurdle to creating a new mobile carrier.


The FCC filing means T-Mobile and Sprint will be allowed to join together as "New T-Mobile" to become a dominant third carrier in the United States alongside Verizon and AT&T. The Department of Justice approved the merger in July.

The finalized order came after a 3-2 vote along partisan lines, with both Democrats against it. FCC boss Ajit Pai said in a statement that the merger would be good for consumers and the U.S. as a whole:
"It would bring the benefits of the next generation of wireless technology to American consumers and advance American leadership in 5G. It would help millions in rural America benefit from high-speed 5G mobile broadband service... and it would promote competition."
However, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was one of the dissenting voices, and argued that the consolidation of the two companies would likely follow the same path as previous mergers, leading to higher prices and poorer service for the majority of customers:
"We've all seen what happens when market concentration increases following a merger. A condensed airline industry brought us baggage fees and smaller seats, even as the price of fuel fell. A condensed pharmaceutical industry has led to a handful of drug companies raising the prices of lifesaving medications, taking advantage of those struggling with illness. There's no reason to think the mobile-phone industry will be different."
Together, the two companies have committed to building out a nationwide 5G network covering 97 percent of the U.S. population within three years and 99 percent within six years. T-Mobile and Sprint have also promised that they will not raise prices for three years following the completion of the merger.

In an attempt to ensure a competitive wireless carrier market, the FFC also wants to see Dish become the fourth nationwide facilities-based wireless carrier in the United States. Dish has announced that it plans to deploy a 5G broadband network capable of serving 70 percent of the U.S. population by June 2023.

A number of states have filed an antitrust lawsuit in U.S. federal court to block the proposed transaction, arguing that the merger is not in the public interest, just like AT&T's attempted acquisition of T-Mobile in 2011 and the attempted merger between Sprint and T-Mobile in 2014, both of which regulators blocked. The lawsuit filed by the bipartisan coalition of more than a dozen state attorneys general remains on the docket and must be resolved before the merger can go forward.

T-Mobile and Sprint anticipate that the merger will be permitted to close by the end of the year. If it does go ahead, it will combine two of the four major wireless carriers in the United States, giving the new company nearly 100 million customers.

Article Link: FCC Formally Approves Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint
 
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GalileoSeven

macrumors regular
Jan 3, 2015
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While I'm not for it, this is realistically the only way Sprint can survive (lest they continue to bleed customers and eventually wind up insolvent/in bankruptcy).

Now the only questions are - when will the prices go up and how much? (the states' lawsuits are just delaying the inevitable IMO)
 

brgjoe

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Nov 6, 2014
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Central IL, USA.
Yeah, I have mixed feelings on it as well.

I am a Sprint customer (ok, quit that laughing). I have had very good service in my town for quite awhile with it though. And T-Mobile's coverage is still spotty around this area, from what I have been told.

But...it could be argued that a Sprint/T-mobile merger would be a good thing in that it will be a company large enough to effectively compete with the larger carriers out there (Verizon and AT&T).

I guess we shall see...
 

DoctorTech

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Jan 6, 2014
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As of 3Q18 (the most recent data I could find in a quick search) Verizon had 35% of the US wireless carrier market, AT&T had 34%, T-mobile had 17% and Sprint had 12%. While I generally agree that mergers = less competition = bad for consumers, this case might be an exception. Because the 2 biggest players control nearly 70% of the market, T-mobile and Sprint individually are a distant 3rd and 4th place but combined they would be a close 3rd place. That might actually make them more of a competitor to the big 2.
 

tdar

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Jun 23, 2003
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I would normally be against this merger. But not in this case. Why? First Sprint is not a stable company that is able to compete well enough to be able to survive long term. Secondly, as is part of the talking points of the companies, 5G changes the game. Without this merger, neither Sprint or T-Mobile will be able to have a full and effective 5G network. So rather then reducing competition, the combined company will be able to offer it to ATT and Verizon. For those that are concerned that this reduces us to only 3 carriers, the 5G market without the merger would have reduced us to 2. And that would have been a disaster for consumers.
 

GalileoSeven

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Jan 3, 2015
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I'm a t-mo customer and really happy with their service. I'm skeptical of this merger though. Fewer companies always lead to higher prices. I'm keeping my grandfathered plan as long as possible.
Same here (grandfathered plan w/Sprint) - got Unlimited + an employee discount on top
 

4jasontv

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Jul 31, 2011
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I would normally be against this merger. But not in this case. Why? First Sprint is not a stable company that is able to compete well enough to be able to survive long term. Secondly, as is part of the talking points of the companies, 5G changes the game. Without this merger, neither Sprint or T-Mobile will be able to have a full and effective 5G network. So rather then reducing competition, the combined company will be able to offer it to ATT and Verizon. For those that are concerned that this reduces us to only 3 carriers, the 5G market without the merger would have reduced us to 2. And that would have been a disaster for consumers.
This argument hasn't made sense to me. If Sprint failed their spectrum would go back to the US government who could relicense it to someone other than the existing big 3. This was an opportunity to send a message that usage of spectrum is a privilege not a right.

In fact, mergers should invalidate spectrum holding in their entirety. You can consolidate the brand and the hardware, but not the resources of the American people.
 

Sasparilla

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Jul 6, 2012
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Since Sprint is not long for the world I'd rather have T-Mobile buy them and get that spectrum rather than chance it getting hoovered up by Verizon or AT&T (to keep their duopoly in place).

This argument hasn't made sense to me. If Sprint failed their spectrum would go back to the US government who could relicense it to someone other than the existing big 3. This was an opportunity to send a message that usage of spectrum is a privilege not a right.

In fact, mergers should invalidate spectrum holding in their entirety. You can consolidate the brand and the hardware, but not the resources of the American people.
While I appreciate what your saying here its really not how the U.S. government works these days. The U.S. government is basically corrupted by corporate influences due to paid lobbying (started in the 1970's) and regulatory capture often due to effects of that paid lobbying (see Verizon's former corporate lawyer, now installed as FCC Chairmain, Mr. Pai). If Sprint was left alone and it imploded, the spectrum would go back to the government for an auction (top bidder) and it'd be in Verizon's and AT&T's best interest to buy it up (or help it go to DISH where mobile spectrum has been stranded for years and years) so T-Mobile couldn't actually threaten them in the market. JMHO...
 

BuffaloTF

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Jun 10, 2008
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Well if there’s a consolidation of wealth and power in big business, I’m all for less competition in the marketplace. Less options promotes competition. Ideally, we’ll just have ma Bell again, and nothing else. That’ll be total competition!
Funny.

Except your sarcasm works against you... because landline telephone prices SKYROCKETED after they were broken up.

And also innovation was stifled by it, since all the things Bell Labs did and couldn't patent because they were unrelated to telephony could suddenly be patented. You know, things like UNIX, C, C++, Stereo Sound, Radio Astronomy, finding the evidence of the Big Bang itself, TDMA and CDMA, the transistor, the laser, solar cells, CCDs... you know, things we DEFINITELY don't rely on today and we DEFINITELY don't benefit from the free licenses on.
 

dmylrea

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Sep 27, 2005
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How would this merger work? Since Sprint is CDMA and TMobile is GSM? Would the "New TMobile" be both, or would current Sprint customers have to change to GSM phones?
 
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xraydoc

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Oct 9, 2005
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T-Mobile uses GSM while Sprint uses CDMA; any idea how this merger affects their network?
Like Verizon, CDMA is only used for sub-LTE communications. But more than likely, they'll have to keep the CDMA network running for a few years until a significant portion of its users have replaced their phones.

I'm hoping the merger will improve my T-Mobile coverage presuming there is a way to share the Sprint LTE towers between both T-Mobile and Sprint devices.

Hopefully it's not just one company running what is essentially two entirely separate networks.
 

BuffaloTF

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Jun 10, 2008
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T-Mobile uses GSM while Sprint uses CDMA; any idea how this merger affects their network?
What is this, 2000? Not a concern, hasn't been for a long time. Cricket was CDMA, Metro PCS was CDMA, Alltel was CDMA. They were each bought by either AT&T or T-Mobile and migrated without a hitch. Why?

Everyone uses LTE. GSM is long dead, CDMA is on life support. GSM died at EDGE, it was replaced by W-CDMA, or UMTS (3G). UMTS is still hanging on, but being phased out. CDMA is being shut down by Verizon at the end of the year, and everyone must be off by December 31, 2020 when they flip the final switch.

LTE is part of the GSM *ASSOCIATION* upgrade path. And it is totally different technology than GSM, CDMA, and W-CDMA.
 

GalileoSeven

macrumors regular
Jan 3, 2015
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How would this merger work? Since Sprint is CDMA and TMobile is GSM? Would the "New TMobile" be both, or would current Sprint customers have to change to GSM phones?

The CDMA and GSM standards have already merged. LTE is the official upgrade path for both network systems.

Both Sprint and T-Mobile are already using LTE for the majority of their network infrastructure and will be decommissioning their remaining legacy CDMA and GSM systems soon so they can re-farm the spectrum for use in 5G



 

_Refurbished_

macrumors 68020
Mar 23, 2007
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We can expect low prices in the beginning, but don’t worry, they will gradually increase. Think of the live TV streaming services how they had it fooled. Now, their prices are increasing every few months to years.
Cellular service is a utility that has been around for decades. Streaming TV services are fledgling services trying to gain subscribers. Prices may go up as time goes on (they have been without a merger), but not to the level of disgrace these streaming services do.

I see three big cell companies, instead of two. One being very progressive, forcing the other two to compete. T-Mobile has gone from teenage plans for your misbehaved teen, to a company that can compete with Verizon.

The real danger is when Legere leaves. No CEO will be able to take over the reigns.
 
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