Sprint, T-Mobile US reignite mega-merger talks (again)

You want more competition, America? Here's another all-powerful telco monolith

Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. If you haven't seen it, it's about a man forced to endure reliving the same day over and over. Pic: Columbia Pictures
Nope, it's not deja vu. They're talking acquisition again

Sprint and T‑Mobile US are in talks to create a third major US wireless carrier.

A report published Tuesday by financial network CNBC cited the ever-chatty "sources familiar" in reporting that the two telcos are back in talks for an all-stock deal that would see the parent company of T‑Mobile US – Deutsche Telekom – take over majority control of the combined company, with Softbank, owner of Sprint, taking the lion's share of the payout.

Neither company has issued a statement on the matter, and CNBC notes that the talks are ongoing.

While T‑Mobile US and Sprint have been tied to merger talks in the past, no formal announcement or speculation has come from either side. A merger of Sprint and T‑Mob US would create a third giant wireless carrier to compete with AT&T and Verizon in the US, and would mean that nearly the entire US wireless phone market would be controlled by the three huge telcos.

According to estimates from Statista, T‑Mobile US has a 16.8 per cent share of the US subscriber base, while Sprint controls 12.8 per cent. The combined company would still be third to AT&T (35 per cent) and Verizon (33 per cent), but just barely.

Back in 2013, the two carriers were said to be in advance talks on a merger deal, and regulators were not optimistic about the chances of approval – though the new administration would probably be more likely to sign off on the deal.

On the other hand, AT&T and Verizon would likely use their significant lobbying budgets to lean on regulators to kill the merger and keep a third major player from forming.

Meanwhile, T‑Mobile US is continuing its customer-friendly "Uncarrier" campaign by raising the threshold on its unlimited data plans. According to screenshots leaked by Android Central, the carrier would let users suck down 50GB of data through their unlimited plans each month before their speeds are throttled down. ®

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