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Communications Businesses United States

T-Mobile, Sprint Close To Agreeing Deal Terms (reuters.com) 85

From a report: T-Mobile US is close to agreeing tentative terms on a deal to merge with peer Sprint Corp, people familiar with the matter said on Friday, a major breakthrough in efforts to merge the third and fourth largest U.S. wireless carriers. The development follows more than four months of on-and-off talks this year between T-Mobile and Sprint, and comes as the U.S. telecommunications sector seeks ways to tackle investments in 5G technology that will greatly enhance wireless data transfer speeds.
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T-Mobile, Sprint Close To Agreeing Deal Terms

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  • eeew (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @10:51AM (#55244297)

    Eeek, I am not so sure I want my provider, T-Mobile, dragged down by Sprint.

    • Who is buying out whom? T-Mobile buying out Sprint is fine with me, but I really don't like the other way round, since I've not really been happy with Sprint's CS over the years.

      • It's unlikely Sprint would be in control afterwards. Sprint needs "saving", T-Mobile is outrageously successful right now. It's Sprint who are pushing various entities, T-Mobile included, to marge with them.
    • I have had Sprint for almost 13 years now and they have been great. Started with 5 lines, now we have 9.

      In rural Ohio you can find Sprint stores in most towns. The closest T-Mobile store to me is 45 minutes away.

      • Rural Ohio! Yes, that place. We often come within 35,000 feet of it when we take commercial. When we take the Lear we stay at least 40,000 feet away.
      • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

        I had sprint for 7 years and all they wanted to do was nickle and dime me to death. $4 a month charge to make international calls. Went straight down to T-Mobile store, got a blackberry with them in 2007 and never had to deal with bizzare nickle and diming fees again, always treated me really well, even adjusted my bill because they quoted me a lower price for calls from peru than was advertised. Then they rolled out unlimited 2G international data. Finally I left T-Mobile simply because Project Fi was marg

      • >"I have had Sprint for almost 13 years now and they have been great."

        And I had Sprint for 16 years before they FINALLY pissed me off enough to make me leave. It wasn't just one thing- it was all kinds of technical and billing problems and truly horrible customer and technical support. But the pricing was always good. Trust me, I tried everything to see if they would be reasonable and they would not. After I went months reporting repeating text messages, lost text messages, and messages delayed somet

  • But I can't wait to see what 'Paul' looks like in a PINK polo!
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @11:00AM (#55244363)
    Maybe we can call it "American Telephone" or just use a cute ringing emoji symbol and call it "American Bell"
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 22, 2017 @11:04AM (#55244387)

      This new company could be called American Telephone & Text.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Don't forget about data.

        American Telephone, Text, and TCP/IP.

        All hail our new overlord, ATT&T!

        • Which will be the new name of AT&T after it buys T-Mobile for an absurd about of money.
          • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

            ATT&T-Mobile.

          • by rcase5 ( 3781471 )

            Nope, not gonna happen. AT&T already tried to acquire T-Mobile a few years back, and it was essentially blocked by the U.S. Government. AT&T already had to pay T-Mobile a small bundle for that fiasco. Oh sure, they have friendly people in the White House and the Congress now, so who knows. But I really doubt they'll try again any time soon, especially after they just gobbled up DirecTV.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not necessarily a bad idea. The existence of MVNOs means that potential an unlimited number of companies could compete to resell access to a single cell network. Christ, I wish that model were brought to our landline ISPs. That could fix a bunch of problems.

  • by RumGunner ( 457733 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @11:15AM (#55244455) Homepage

    We should not be okay with this. Reduced choices leads to increased cost. Fewer companies means less competition, and a greater probability of collusion and price-fixing. We should be furious.

    However, the people who actually run this country are quite okay with this, so it will almost certainly go through.

    • by ctilsie242 ( 4841247 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @11:22AM (#55244493)

      Then there is shit like actively MITMing traffic which some telcos did, where they actively added in UIDH headers into HTTP traffic as a way to ID people. T-Mobile was one of the few that didn't do this.

      I get no warm fuzzies about this merger unless Sprint is completely absorbed and Magenta's DNA stays the same.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      4 is better than 3 isn't a basis for making a determination. We'll get more competition here as scale is key in this business. The costs for the smaller carriers to compete with VZW and ATT are pretty high. When you can spread out your network, ad and other costs over a bigger number of users you are more efficient and able to reduce prices even more aggressively. And those who looked at real coverage maps will tell you that every TMo and Sprint user will see improvements in coverage, etc. This is a go

      • Sprint and T-Mobile are on different bands. Phones are frequency locked to one network or the other. In most places they are both renting space from the same tower owners.

        The only possible reason to allow this is the assumption that Sprint is already 'walking dead'.

    • We should not be okay with this. Reduced choices leads to increased cost. Fewer companies means less competition

      You're assuming that the market can support 4 major carriers. Sprint has been operating at negative net income for years now. That's why Softbank is interested in the merger, because it's unlikely that Sprint will be able to scale to be profitable.

  • by PineHall ( 206441 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @11:43AM (#55244659)
    I am wonder what advantage there is for T-Moble. In the last few years, T-Mobile has greatly expanded its network. Coverage is much better. Would Sprint increase the network coverage of T-Mobile? I don't it would make much of a difference. Where is Sprint that T-Mobile is not? I don't see the advantage for T-Mobile. Cost savings from the combine company reducing staff, I don't think will be that great.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Spectrum. That's what they get from Sprint.

      • They'd need all new phones that could access all the bands. Generic 'world phones' can't use Sprint's spectrum.

    • by tgetzoya ( 827201 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @12:29PM (#55245041)
      Sprint has a lot of spectrum that it isn't using because it can't afford to. After that, take the total number of subscribers from Sprint and T-Mobile and when it's still less than AT&T or Verizon there's so much spectrum left that T-Mobile could offer (very) much better coverage than either of the two titans.

      When a new spectrum auction comes up, T-Mobile will not need to bid and therefore not raise rates to cover cost. Also, with all that new spectrum, 5G will be more realizable.

      Finally, T-Moblie could start offering home broadband like Comcast or Charter. There would be lower caps than those but it's still a much more viable option at 5G.
    • One less competitor. Both are occupying the same space (unfortunately) as budget operator with a poor (largely undeserved, in T-Mo's case) reputation for quality of network. T-Mobile gets the Sprint customers.

      They could use the additional spectrum to go overboard on their bandwidth (unlimited LTE speed tethering! Data de-prioritization threshold of 500G! Go nuts! Get rid of Comcast!) I guess. Mind you, the problem there would more likely be the physical cables going to each tower. So I don't see that ha

  • NOooooo! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xeno ( 2667 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @11:45AM (#55244681)
    I've been with T-Mobile for... well, since they started in the US in the VoiceStream days. I worked for ATTWS for many years, family members have had Sprint and Verizon, ...so with a couple decades of input it's clear: T-Mobile is pretty good.

    The problem is how godawful the rest are. ATTWS is still a pile of bailing wire pretending to be a premium carrier at top dollar. Verizon's technology is decent, but the customer service is incompetent at best, and the pricing schemes are draconian. And Sprint... oh Sprint... their customer service motto is "we don't care," their technical philosophy is based on lock-in, and their billing policies are designed by people who run those fitness gyms that you can't ever get to stop billing your card even after the service ends. By contrast, T-Mo is amazing, because they just keep being pretty good.

    PLEASE, T-Mo, don't do this. Sprint's infrastructure is barely worth it, and the human capital over on the yellow side of the fence needs to be sent back to barista school, from top to bottom. Why trash a good thing for another .000002% growth? DON'T MERGE WITH SPRINT, she's a-no-good-for-you!!
    • T-mobile being good is all depending on where you live. Where I live, T-mobile has just recently entered the market. Coverage wise, they are no better than the cheapest of the cheap "BUY HERE -- PAY HERE" cell phone service. Leave town and have no coverage... However.. I will say that I think they have inked the LTE roaming deal with US Cellular which would have improved their coverage by a factor of 20.

      I jumped my t-mo line over to Sprint to take advantage of the "One year of unlimited service for
    • Me too, remember the Jamie Lee Curtis commercials. Anyway, I've always been quite happy with T-Mo. They have always undercut the majors pricing and weirdly, even lower prices on plans of old customers without asking. I've gone from limited minutes back under voice stream for I think it was 80/mo to unlimited everything for 50. All without threatening to leave. Their CS reps are knowledgeable in store and the 2 times I had to call in over 15 years has been resolved quickly. I pray they don't screw it up with

    • Re:NOooooo! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @01:01PM (#55245287) Homepage Journal

      Verizon's technology is decent

      Verizon's MARKETING of their technology is good. Their technology is awful. They're the only network I consistently have to ask everyone to repeat themselves three times or more if they call me. It's like listening to someone speaking through a garden hose that someone else is jumping on over and over again.

      They've learned the secret to getting people to say they have a really good network is:

      1. Marketing, marketing, marketing.
      2. Maximize coverage, at the expense of everything else.
      3. Focus on call drops and other unlikely events that tend to get used as objective metrics.

      Do those three, and you can get away with anything, to the point your network is virtually unusable in practice. Why? Because if the objective metrics say it's good, people will rarely even realize the more difficult to measure but more critical attributes of a phone service are infinitely better with all the others. Even Sprint.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So two networks that are incompatible (CMDB vs GSM) are going to merge. Thats going to be fun.. Not to mention that stupid diddle ring tone t-mobile has.

    • Sprint is phasing out cdmaOne/cdma2000 in favor of LTE, which is the latest generation GSM standard. Many Sprint customers already have phones compatible with T-Mobile's network. T-Mobile went through a similar process with MetroPCS a few years ago, and took the decision to just drop the cdma* bullshit, giving everyone two years to upgrade their phones.

      While Sprint is bigger than T-Mobile, expect the same policy, perhaps over a slightly longer period to make the phone upgrades more organic and less of a

  • by WrongMonkey ( 1027334 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @12:02PM (#55244823)
    Sprint is CDMA. T-Mobile is GSM. How does a merger make sense when they can't even combine current customers onto the same network.
    • by starblazer ( 49187 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @12:07PM (#55244851) Homepage
      they both run LTE networks and LTE is the way of the foreseeable future. CDMA and GSM are not the main underlying topologies like they used to be.
      • by Shatrat ( 855151 )

        ...and by the time they're really integrated it will be time to roll out 5G anyway, which is likely a big driver of this merger. Without it neither will be able to afford to roll out 5G networks until long after AT&T and VZ are mostly finished.

    • by EvilSS ( 557649 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @12:13PM (#55244909)
      I imagine they will phase out the CDMA network. Most other CDMA carriers are dropping it. Verizon is slated to turn off theirs in 2019 and several Canadian carriers are moving away from it as well.
    • by darkain ( 749283 )

      Pretty much no different than when T-Mobile took over MetroPCS!

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Friday September 22, 2017 @12:48PM (#55245183)
      Aside from the SIM card (which is used for LTE anyway), CDMA and GSM are only used for voice and 3G data (in fact GSM uses wideband CDMA for 3G data).

      LTE uses OFDMA, with a few channels using dynamically assigned TDMA. These are compatible with both GSM and CDMA carriers as long as the phones aren't frequency-locked to a specific carrier's bands. So the networks would in fact be compatible if you made a phone with an OFDMA LTE radio, and both CDMA and GSM voice radios. My old Nexus 5 supports all those. So does the unlocked Samsung Galaxy 8/8+. If a combined Sprint/T-Mobile requested manufacturers to make such phones, I'm sure they would (except Sony, who seems to hate CDMA voice).

      Sprint service is fine in most of the East coast and midwest. Their service has been hamstrung in the West coast because the company they hired to build their tower network there (which has since gone bankrupt) spaced the towers out the furthest apart the specifications allowed. You know, the time-honored tradition of fulfilling the exact letter of the contract while spending the least amount of money possible. This resulted in a cellular network which only worked well in open, flat terrain, and had lots of dead spots in urban and hilly areas. Sprint has tried to fix this by adding intermediate towers, but this is expensive and often results in towers being too close together.

      The only true fix is to tear it all down and build all the towers again with proper spacing. Or to merge with another carrier with their own tower network, and to reallocate transmitting equipment to properly spaced towers, and shut down unnecessary towers. The extra cellular bandwidth wouldn't hurt either seeing as both companies predominantly operate in the 1.8-1.9 GHz bands (Verizon and AT&T have the advantage of 900 MHz voice bands).
    • Sprint is CDMA. T-Mobile is GSM. How does a merger make sense when they can't even combine current customers onto the same network.

      All the telco's are in the process of migrating traditional voice networks to VoLTE.

  • I wanted a blanket phase out of CDMA... not more Mergers. CDMA is inherently Anti-consumer. What I wanted to see is a compulsory switch from CDMA to GSM for Verizon and Sprint, and a break up of Qualcomm, This is the opposite of what I wanted.

    • When T-Mobile bought MetroPCS they phased out cdmaOne/cdma2000 over a period of two years. Like Sprint, MetroPCS was a combined LTE/cdmaOne/cdma2000 network.

      In all probability, T-Mobile will do the same thing with Sprint, perhaps over a slightly longer period of time. This would leave Verizon as the sole operator of a network still running Qualcomm's standards, and increase pressure on them to turn it off, moving all their customers to exclusively LTE (the latest generation GSM standard.)

      So, other tha

  • We have antitrust laws (anti-monopoly or pro-competition laws) on the books to stop this kind of thing. The Sherman Antitrust Act (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman_Antitrust_Act) is the first that comes to mind. When will the US actually enforce laws like this to promote competition among markets? "The free market" rests on the notion that buyers and sellers in a marketplace have access to good information about what they're buying and selling, and that government creates reasonable rules by which the
    • Allowing companies to gain such huge market share is definitely anti-competitive and hurts consumers.

      Sprint's share + TMUS's share is still less than the market share of either VZ or ATT.

    • by rcase5 ( 3781471 )

      It seems that there is no appetite to enforce the Sherman Act as of late.

      Sure, the U.S. Government effectively stalled the acquisition of T-Mobile by AT&T a few years ago. But more recently, if EVER there was a time to invoke the Sherman Act, it should have been when AT&T acquired DirecTV, especially since they already had their own subscription TV service (Uverse).

      There was also the NBC/Universal acquisition by Comcast; they now own production, distribution and exhibition of a pretty big part of Am

  • Probably the prices will go up for internet and everyone will merge to 1. Funny, that I get 3GB for 1.6€ How? I live in Estonia. Smart (.ee) (it's a company under a company for prepaid, but they offer monthly too) -> Be a student (isic) or if you are not a student, be a teacher (itic) and get 3GB for 2€. Adittionaly some spots offer -20% everything so it goes down to 1.6€ If you aren't a student, then the best option is Super (also prepaid) or waste 1 year of your life, calling up provider
    • Quite happy to see the Estonia (my mother's birthplace) has tripled its per capita income in the 21st century. It's now about 30k$US.

      Still half the income in the USA, so adjust prices accordingly.

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