On Wednesday, T-Mobile finalized its merger with Sprint, reducing the number of major mobile companies in the US from four to three (AT&T, Verizon, and the newly merged T-Mobile/Sprint). The merged company will go by “T-Mobile”; to get the merger approved, the cellular company had to make a few concessions. A big one is T-Mobile selling its prepaid subsidiaries Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile to Dish, who can use T-Mobile’s cellular network for the next seven years. Government regulators hope this will allow Dish to become a new fourth national cellular company.
RIP Sprint (as an independent service)
After using prepaid flip phones in the 2000s (on Virgin Mobile), late in the decade I bought my first smartphone, a Palm Pre. The Pre was bought on contract through Sprint, who has a more prominent presence in the Midwest, where I lived at the time. I stayed with Sprint through the early 2010s, before moving (eventually) to T-Mobile, who I stayed with for years. A year ago, I switched from T-Mobile to their prepaid subsidiary, Metro; as far as I can tell, Metro’s not being sold or changing with this merger.
Besides my usual feelings about large mergers, the fact Dish is being encouraged to become a fourth major cellular service raises the question: what’s the point of this merger?
If the feds really wanted four major cellular carriers, they could’ve kept everything as is, rather than allowing for a combined Sprint/T-Mobile and Dish, and hoping they’re a match for AT&T/Verizon. And again, AT&T is already excessively large as it is—if the federal government really wanted to help, they wouldn’t have allowed Ma Bell to buy WarnerMedia in the first place.