Tech

T-Mobile & Sprint Merger: What It Means

What changes now that T-Mobile and Sprint are one company?

Since April 2018, T-Mobile and Sprint, two of the top four mobile operators, have sought approval for the merger to merge the two companies into a single company. On April 1, 2020, the merger was completed and New T-Mobile was created, now the second largest carrier after Verizon.

T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Timeline

T-Mobile first announced the merger in April 2018, was approved by the Department of Justice in July 2019, a federal court ruled in favor of the merger in February 2020, and was finalized on April 1, 2020.

From now on, both brands will continue to exist separately. Sprint’s customers don’t have to do anything different, the plan hasn’t changed, and its stores and chains are still separate. But eventually everything from Sprint will pass to T-Mobile.

T-Mobile and Sprint

While the deal is said to create new jobs, lower prices, and offer better overall cell coverage, there’s still a lot of speculation about how it will actually work for customers and employees. Will the merger raise or lower prices? Will the merger create more jobs, or will the merger in a single company force some employees to leave?

Main target: 5G application

While this is certainly an important factor to weigh when it comes to the two convergences, this one focuses primarily on accelerating the 5G rollout. Both T-Mobile and Sprint are on track for a similar launch date for 5G, but does coming together in one company mean 5G will get even faster… or slower?

Will prices change?

T-Mobile says the merger means existing customers will be able to pay less than they are paying now:

The new T-Mobile will offer free 5G access and best price plans at low prices now and in the future, so all customers can enjoy the benefits of a carrier-free network in great value. And Nova T-Mobile has committed to offering equal or better tariff plans for three years that include access to 5G, including prepaid and Lifeline customers.

Connection Heroes Initiative

T-Mobile also says the merger will provide free 5G access through the Connecting Heroes Initiative:

…Unlimited FREE chat, text, and smartphone data for ALL first responders at ALL state and local nonprofit, fire, police, and EMS agencies…

T-Mobile Link

T-Mobile Connect is a change made during the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile. For $15 per month, it comes with unlimited chats and texts and includes 2GB of data. For $25 per month, you can get 5GB of high-speed data.

Impacts on the mobile market

If T-Mobile cuts prices further, the other two major carriers AT&T and Verizon are also likely to start offering the service at a lower price point. If they want to keep their customers while T-Mobile cuts prices, they can do the same.

What else?

As with any merger, the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint means that both companies have more resources than they did when they were separate entities. We can expect this to translate into accelerated growth in terms of new devices and coverage, but that may not happen right away.

T-Mobile says that by 2026, the new company will:

…provides 5G speeds to 99% of the US population and average 5G speeds of over 100 Mbps to 90% of the US population.

However, from the customer’s point of view, it is likely not to change much. Once some key behind-the-scenes factors are resolved, Sprint users will be able to use T-Mobile base stations and T-Mobile users will be able to access Sprint towers. This means more coverage and possibly little or no price changes (at least not higher prices) for existing customers.

business expansion

The companies also said they plan to create thousands of new jobs in the US with the merger. Presumably, some or most of these new workers will be recruited in rural areas where they plan to expand their infrastructure.

Unfortunately, as of March 2021, the situation was the opposite. According to Light Reading, several thousand jobs have been lost since the merger.

Effects on Cell Tower Scope and Numbers

However, your current combined base station count from 110,000 towers will be reduced to 85,000. This includes building 10,000 new towers and cutting 35,000 towers. At the same time, the company plans to increase the number of small base stations from 10,000 to 50,000.

At the time of this change, it is unclear how this will affect coverage for existing Sprint and T-Mobile customers, as most, if not all, of the decommissioned towers will be owned by Sprint.

plate changes

Another change resulting from the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile includes positioning Dish as the fourth largest carrier in the US, essentially replacing Sprint. According to the Department of Justice:

Under the terms of the proposed deal, T-Mobile and Sprint are expected to transfer Sprint’s prepaid businesses to Dish Network Corp, including Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint prepaid. Additionally, T-Mobile and Sprint must provide Dish with at least 20,000 mobile sites and hundreds of retail outlets. T-Mobile is also expected to provide Dish with solid access to the T-Mobile network for seven years, while Dish is building its own 5G network.

Dish is committed to deploying a 5G network with download speeds of at least 35 Mbps to 70% of the US population by 2023. In fact, if they don’t comply they will have to pay a $2.2 billion fine to the government.

5G race

All four wireless carriers across the country are racing to roll out 5G as soon as possible, with some rolling out the new network in 2019, at least for major US cities. However, they are all still in the process of providing true national coverage.

With its newly inherited features from Sprint, the new T-Mobile may seem like a win for 5G at first glance. Maybe they have a blended and truly national 5G coverage of six months to a year, faster than they could do as separate companies. However, this may not be the case.

T-Mobile 5G: When and Where to Get It (Updated for 2022)

A merger of this scale will require a lot of restructuring when it comes to management and employees, not to mention the fact that the company’s two base stations are probably not fully set up for a smooth transition – and most existing towers will be shut down – 5G could be put on hold while other things take priority.

Even earlier 5G?

However, if 5G is as important to T-Mobile and Sprint as they seem, it’s very likely that their customers will see 5G even faster than Verizon or AT&T. Check out this filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in early 2019 where T-Mobile with Sprint claimed the two companies could cover about 96% of rural America by 2024.

With more money, employees and other resources, and refurbishment of base stations, it’s unrealistic to think that the new T-Mobile company is now in the fast lane to 5G and will outpace the other two major wireless carriers.


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T-Mobile & Sprint Merger: What It Means

What changes now that T-Mobile and Sprint are one company?

Since April 2018, T-Mobile and Sprint, two of the four major wireless carriers, have been seeking approval for a merger to combine the two companies into one. On April 1, 2020, the merger was completed, creating the New T-Mobile, now the second-largest carrier after Verizon

T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Timeline

T-Mobile originally announced the merger to the public in April 2018, it was approved by the Justice Department in July 2019, a federal court ruled in favor of the merger in February 2020, and it was finalized on April 1, 2020.

As of right now, both brands will continue to exist separately. Sprint customers don’t need to do anything differently, no plan changes have taken place, and their stores and networks are still separate. But eventually, everything from Sprint will move over to T-Mobile.

T-Mobile and Sprint 
Although the deal is said to create new jobs, lower prices, and provide better overall cell coverage, there’s still much speculation over how it will actually play out for customers and employees. Will the merger raise or lower prices? Will more jobs be created with a merge or does combining into one company force some employees out the door?

The Main Goal: 5G Implementation

While those things are definitely an important factor to weigh when it comes to a merger of any two companies, this one is primarily focused on accelerating 5G implementation. Both T-Mobile and Sprint have been on track for a similar release date for 5G, but does uniting into one company mean 5G will come even faster…or slower?

Will Prices Change?

T-Mobile says that the merger means current customers could pay less than they do right now:

The New T-Mobile will offer free access to 5G and the best rate plans at low prices, now and in the future, so all customers can reap the benefits of a supercharged Un-Carrier network at a great value. And the New T-Mobile has committed to delivering the same or better rate plans for three years, which includes access to 5G, including for prepaid and Lifeline customers.  

The Connecting Heroes Initiative

T-Mobile also says that the merger will allow for free 5G access through Connecting Heroes Initiative, which is:

…FREE unlimited talk, text and smartphone data to ALL first responders at ALL public and nonprofit state and local fire, police and EMS agencies…

T-Mobile Connect

T-Mobile Connect is already one change that was made around the time of the Sprint and T-Mobile merger. It’s $15 /month, comes with unlimited talk and text, and includes 2 GB of data. For $25 /month, you can get 5 GB of high-speed data.

Effects on the Mobile Market

If T-Mobile lowers prices even more, it’s likely that the other two major carriers, AT&T and Verizon, will also start offering service at a lower price. If they want to hold on to their customers while T-Mobile slashes prices, they might just do the same.

What Else Will Happen?

Like with any merging of companies, the T-Mobile and Sprint merger means both companies have more resources than they did before when they were separate entities. We can expect this to translate to accelerated growth in terms of new devices and coverage, but it might not happen right away.

T-Mobile says that by 2026, the new company will:

…provide 5G to 99% of the U.S. population and average 5G speeds in excess of 100 Mbps to 90% of the U.S. population.

However, from a customer’s point of view, it’s likely that not much is going to change. After some important behind-the-scenes factors are ironed out, Sprint users will be able to use T-Mobile cell towers and T-Mobile users will be able to reach Sprint towers. This means more coverage and likely little to no change in price (at least not higher prices) for existing customers.

Jobs Expansion

The companies have also said that with the merger, they plan to create thousands of new jobs in America. Some or most of these new employees would presumably be hired in rural areas where they plan to widen their infrastructure.

Unfortunately, as of March 2021, it’s been the opposite. According to Light Reading, several thousand jobs have disappeared since the merger.

Effects on Coverage and Cell Tower Numbers

However, their current, combined cell tower count of 110,000 towers will be reduced to 85,000. This involves building 10,000 new towers and cutting 35,000 towers. At the same time, the company plans to increase its small cell tower count from 10,000 to 50,000.

During that change, it’s unclear how that will affect coverage for existing Sprint and T-Mobile customers since most if not all the decommissioned towers will be ones Sprint owned.

Dish Changes

Another change coming out of the Sprint and T-Mobile merger involves positioning Dish as the fourth major carrier in the US, essentially taking Sprint’s place. According to the Justice Department:

Under the terms of the proposed settlement, T-Mobile and Sprint must divest Sprint’s prepaid business, including Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Sprint prepaid, to Dish Network Corp. Additionally, T-Mobile and Sprint must make available to Dish at least 20,000 cell sites and hundreds of retail locations. T-Mobile must also provide Dish with robust access to the T-Mobile network for a period of seven years while Dish builds out its own 5G network.

Dish is committed to building a 5G network by 2023 that will be available to 70 percent of the US population at download speeds of at least 35 Mbps. In fact, if they don’t follow through, they must pay the government a $2.2 billion penalty.

The 5G Race

All four of the nationwide wireless carriers have been racing to put out 5G as quickly as possible, some having already released the new network in 2019, at least for major cities in the US. However, all of them are still in the process of providing true nationwide coverage.

The New T-Mobile, with its newly inherited resources from Sprint, might at first seem like a win for 5G. Maybe they’ll have a merged and truly nationwide 5G coverage six months to a year quicker than they could have done it as separate companies. However, that might not be the case.

T-Mobile 5G: When and Where You Can Get It (Updated for 2022)

Since a merger of this scale likely involve lots of restructuring when it comes to management and workers, not to mention the fact that the two company’s cell towers probably aren’t exactly set up for a smooth transition—and many of the existing towers will be shut down—5G could be put on hold while other things take precedence.

Even Sooner 5G?

However, that being said, if 5G is as important to T-Mobile and Sprint as they make it out to be, it’s very possible that their customers could see 5G even faster than Verizon’s or AT&T’s. Just look at this early 2019 filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, where T-Mobile claims that with Sprint, the two companies could cover nearly 96 percent of rural America by 2024.

With more money, employees, and other resources, and a revamp of their cell towers, it’s not unrealistic to think that the new T-Mobile company is now in the fast lane to 5G and will beat out the other two major wireless carriers.

#TMobile #Sprint #Merger #Means


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