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Big Telecom: Terms Set For Sprint To Buy T-Mobile For $32B

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the now-come-up-with-some-slogans dept.

Businesses 158

First time accepted submitter Randy Davis (3683081) writes 'A report from Forbes says that Sprint buying T-mobile for $32 billion is almost done. This will clearly rock the top two telecommunication companies in the U.S., Verizon and AT&T. The news report also said that T-mobile will give up 67% share in exchange of 15% share of the merged company. Officials of both Sprint and T-Mobile are confident that FCC will approve this deal since AT&T's $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV got approved.' One reason for that confidence: "The predominant feeling is that combined T-Mobile and Sprint will be able to offer greater competition to Verizon and AT&T , ranked first and second respectively in the U.S. market. It will also give Sprint greater might in the upcoming 600 megahertz spectrum auction, especially since part of it excludes both Verizon and AT&T from bidding."

InforWorld puts the potential price even higher, and points out that the deal could still fall apart.

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Competitition is good. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171477)

I'm happy to see someone that can challenge the AT&T / Verizon / Comcast monopoly.

Re:Competitition is good. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171535)

No, fuck you. This is exactly the opposite of introducing competition. It's an extremely shitty company with incredibly shitty service (Sprint) buying a smaller competitor with far better service (T-Mobile) in order to make a much more massive, shittier company than before possible.

This is an anti-trust violation, so fuck these guys!

Re:Competitition is good. (2)

scuzzlebutt (517123) | about 4 months ago | (#47171701)

Sounds just like the GTE / Bell Atlantic merger that created Verizon.

Re:Competitition is good. (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 4 months ago | (#47171893)

It certainly is not anti-trust territory, but I did in fact leave Sprint because of their appalling customer service. I've been with T-Mobile for probably 10 years or so, though on prepay for the last 2.

Re:Competitition is good. (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about 4 months ago | (#47172899)

I've been on MetroPCS since 2006, which is now owned by T-Mobile. So I guess I will be under Sprint soon. If it changes my service for the worse, I will have to switch to one of the independents.

Re:Competitition is good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47173097)

No you dumbass.

You need a minimum of 3 viable (read national) competitors to actually have competition. Most of the US there is only one cable co and only one wireline telco. Wireless does not make a 3rd option, as wireless is entirely non-viable to use instead of the cable/phone company. And when your phone company is also the wireless company that means it's not even considered competition.

It may take some time to remember, but the last time there was viable competition, it was before Cingular merged with AT&T Wireless. Every merger after that has resulted in less competition with:
a) The people who hate the merging companies bail out to one of the non-merging companies they consider less evil
b) They say to hell with it and quit using the services.

Most people pick option A, but there is a lack of choices.

Arguably, T-Mobile has the best plans and the second worst devices. Sprint has never been a first tier provider because they have never had the bandwidth, and when they miscalculated things with the WiMax, Clearwire, and even when they purchased the entirely-incompatible Nextel. Sprint is like the wanna-be-a-loser-forever by constantly picking the wrong horse. T-mobile would be better off purchased by a Canadian carrier.

Whoever wins, the customer loses (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171481)

Also, AT&T's acquisition of DirecTV has not yet been approved. Huge factual error in the summary.

Re: Whoever wins, the customer loses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171533)

Given the context of Sprint/ T-Mobile approving a deal, I assume it ment the Corporate approval of AT&T/ DirectTV, rather than FCC approval.

Re: Whoever wins, the customer loses (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | about 4 months ago | (#47172147)

And really, what's the difference?

Re: Whoever wins, the customer loses (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#47172191)

Given the context of Sprint/ T-Mobile approving a deal, I assume it ment the Corporate approval of AT&T/ DirectTV, rather than FCC approval.

There are many approvals that are needed. The FCC is just one branch of government. There's the FTC as well... and I'm sure there are regulatory bodies for satellite and TV... and a hundred other things.

Re: Whoever wins, the customer loses (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 4 months ago | (#47172697)

Given the context of Sprint/ T-Mobile approving a deal, I assume it ment the Corporate approval of AT&T/ DirectTV, rather than FCC approval.

Wrong. TFS is talking about FCC approval.

Officials of both Sprint and T-Mobile are confident that FCC will approve this deal since AT&T's $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV got approved.

Reading is FUNdamental! But so is writing - TFA claims that the AT&T deal must making Sprint confident regarding regulatory approval, yet the AT&T deal hasn't been approved, so there's no fucking reason for Sprint to be confident. I, however, am confident that history will repeat itself and we the people will be screwed over when both deals ultimately are approved.

Re:Whoever wins, the customer loses (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47173383)

Sprint MVNOs have pretty low prices, but their coverage typically sucks. This might improve their coverage, but I don't know. Is Sprint going to shut down GSM or move everything to LTE for compatibility?

Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (0)

Virtucon (127420) | about 4 months ago | (#47171495)

The obvious problems here is #3/#4 merging meaning less consumer choice and higher prices and worse customer service ahead. Not that Sprint and T-Mobile aren't the worst already in customer service but this is a lose, lose all way around. I also can't help to think how Sprint's acquisition of another carrier, Nextel, didn't bode well for subscribers on that network either. I seriously doubt that the DOJ or the FCC will block it though since T-Mobile has been up for sale for quite awhile. Oh well folks, get ready for three Wireless Carriers in the US dominating your choice for the next few decades. I wonder if T-Mobile will re-run their cowboy ads showing the fourth hung from an old oak tree?

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (5, Insightful)

meustrus (1588597) | about 4 months ago | (#47171567)

Now I know that Sprint and T-Mobile don't have the best wireless coverage, but you're going to have to try a little harder to justify the claim they have the worst customer service. I was under the impression it was just a universally accepted fact that Verizon's customer service is the worst in the industry despite their otherwise excellent network service. As I've heard someone say, Verizon is the hottest girl at the prom, and worse, she knows it.

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (4, Interesting)

Enry (630) | about 4 months ago | (#47171617)

It's all relative. I had Verizon and bailed to T-Mobile a few months ago. Both had okay customer service, though I did have a Verizon person intentionally hang up on me. I had to call T-Mobile on Monday to make changes to my plan - I couldn't make the changes via the web site, nor could I go to a store to do it - I had to call. The person I spoke with was pleasent enough and made the changes quickly.

As you say, they have the best network, highest prices, confusing and awful plans, and terrible ETF/subsidy policies.

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (4, Interesting)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 4 months ago | (#47171723)

until a few months ago, I was working at a cell phone tech company (android software and server back-end stuff) and we had to be able to test our stuff with all the local carriers.

we moved our site and wouldn't you know, we could not get any t-mobile reception (and I have a t-mo phone). stepping out of the building didn't help much. putting a real antenna/repeater on the roof and repeating to the bottom floors didn't help!

we had to rent hotel rooms nearby, for days and weeks at a time to do our testing. our corporate headquarters just did not have good cellphone reception (pretty much across the board but tmo was the most useless). if I got an EDGE connection, I felt lucky (sigh). if you can imagine a cell phone company not doing a check of the RF reachability before picking a new HQ, maybe its good for a laugh or two right now. was not very funny at the time, though.

I do like the unlimited plan and no-contract of tmo but letting giants merge to become bigger giants NEVER helps the consumer.

if this is allowed - and we all know it will be - its further proof of the utter detachment of those who make the laws and rules from those who are forced to live under them.

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (1)

Enry (630) | about 4 months ago | (#47171889)

Strange. I actually got a prepaid phone for a few months from TMO so I could try the data and voice connections (I'm in eastern MA). Connections everywhere were great except for a few parts in the western part of the state. In some cases I got better signal than my Verizon phone.

My current Nexus 5 doesn't offer it, but the prepaid phone lets you do phone calls over wifi. Worked pretty well.

I'm sure if I lived in a more rural area I'd go with Verizon for the coverage, but what I have now works good enough for the price I'm paying.

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 4 months ago | (#47172097)

I live in northern NJ and use T-Mobile; the reception here is generally pretty good. I've heard coworkers complain about reception in my office building, but mine is great.

My mom, who lives in a small town in VA, uses Verizon because everything else has terrible coverage there.

It seems to me that Verizon is the best choice if you really need good coverage in more rural areas, but doesn't have that advantage in more urban areas.

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47172107)

we had to rent hotel rooms nearby, for days and weeks at a time to do our testing

And accounting actually believed that? Bravo. "No, really, we're, ummm, testing. Yes, that's right. Testing. No, the room service was necessary for the testing. And the champagne."

but letting giants merge to become bigger giants NEVER helps the consumer

That's just what they tell us. In reality, it's supposed to help shareholders, and ultimately ensure executive bonuses.

Mr CEO, you've just axed 20,000 jobs, what now .... "I'm going to Disney to spend some of this huge bonus I got, and then I'm going to raise everybody's rates to increase revenue".

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171655)

That almost sounds convincing, but actual [jdpower.com] analysis [huffingtonpost.com] disagrees.

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (1)

apcullen (2504324) | about 4 months ago | (#47171725)

you realize that these links don't actually disprove the op's anecdote, right? The jd power link says that verizon has the best network reliability and neither company is mentioned as having good or bad wireless customer satisfaction.

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171831)

You could try reading the details. [jdpower.com]

Sprint and T-Mobile have bad service, there merge will be a composite of horrible service that makes everyone else glad they aren't using Sprint-Mobile.

Or here's another place explaining an older JD poll [scambook.com]

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 4 months ago | (#47172115)

They ALL have bad service. But I thought it was generally accepted that T-mobile had the best service of the bunch (though still not great by any means), while Verizon was renowned for having the worst.

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (2, Interesting)

Virtucon (127420) | about 4 months ago | (#47171713)

Naw, I'd put Sprint as dead last both from my friends, coworkers and family with T-mobile slightly ahead of them them in terms of customer service. I had Sprint for years, disconnected calls, no network access, slow network and then 3 years ago I cancelled. After 6 years with them they sent a $400 nasty gram saying I had 10 days to pay or they'd turn it over to collections even though my bill was current. The $400 was for a smartphone and early termination of that. I then went with T-Mobile who I'd been with before Sprint. When T-Mobile filed for bankruptcy it really went south from there. Although the network performance was better customer service sucked badly, so instead of dealing with that I switched to Simple Mobile which uses T-Mobile's network and I don't have all the bullshit. So consumers will have the worst coverage unless your in major metro areas and with spending $32 billion for T-Mobile I doubt Sprint will have the resources to build out the network further, much like when they acquired Nextel.

Verizon's problem is, well they're Verizon and you're not. Their terms and conditions/business practices are recognized as the worst but their customer service and network are top notch. For my business accounts I use Verizon, personal stuff SimpleMobile.

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (2)

Jhon (241832) | about 4 months ago | (#47172003)

I've had nothing but good experience with T-Mobile customer service. I can't speak to Sprint's level of service, however.

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (2, Insightful)

apcullen (2504324) | about 4 months ago | (#47171743)

actually if sprint and t-mobile combine their networks they might be able to compete with verizon, which is a good thing for everybody. right now each company only competes in certain markets.

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171769)

Actually, I have been with T-Mobile for 5 years now. I switched from AT&T to T-Mobile, because T-Mobile was the first to get Android. T-Mobile actually has great customer service. Hands down better than the rest, and I have been with all the major carriers at one point or another. I will give you that their coverage isn't as good as AT&T but it's better than Sprint's.

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (2)

nine-times (778537) | about 4 months ago | (#47171805)

Not that Sprint and T-Mobile aren't the worst already in customer service...

They aren't, or at least T-Mobiles not so bad. Verizon... boy, there's a company with some terrible customer service.

What worries me more is that Sprint is buying T-Mobile, and not the other way around. Though, I don't know why anyone would want to buy Sprint. My impression is that their customer service isn't so bad, but... boy, there's a company with some incompetent management.

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (2)

Hodr (219920) | about 4 months ago | (#47172301)

Sprint MVNOs offer some of the best deals in the US. I currently pay $10/mo for 400 Minutes, 400 Texts, and 300MB of data using RingPlus.

If they continue with the MVNO model and add T-Mobile towers to the network, that sounds pretty great to me.

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (2)

BronsCon (927697) | about 4 months ago | (#47171885)

I left AT&T's superior coverage for T-Mobile's superior customer service. I'm not going to say they're perfect because, let's face it, they're not; I've had billing issues with them, but nothing on the recurring-have-to-call-every-month-to-get-a-credit-because-they-refuse-to-fix-the-underlying-problem scale I had with AT&T. Strangely, my phone also seems to work in more places on T-Mobile than it did on AT the only place I have spotty coverage is in my office, where my AT&T phone only worked because I had a microcell (when that could get GPS signal).

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (3, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | about 4 months ago | (#47172019)

The obvious problems here is #3/#4 merging meaning less consumer choice and higher prices and worse customer service ahead.

CHOICE: 2 bowls of candy, and 2 bowls of steaming dog crap, isn't a lot of "consumer choice". If a merger turns that into 3 bowls of candy, then consumers will have MORE choice as a result of the merger. That's a big "IF," but both outcomes are possible.

PRICES: While prices could rise a bit, AT&T and Verizon are both desperate to get a foothold in the prepaid cellular market. To do so, they have dirt-cheap service plans that are nearly competitive with Sprint and T-Mobile, without that whole lousy coverage issue. I don't see how SprinTMobile will be able to raise their prices much, without losing all their customers to pre-paid plans from the big two.

Re:Less consumer choice, higher prices ahead (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 4 months ago | (#47172175)

We don't have the choice of any bowls of candy. We only have 4 bowls of steaming crap of various kinds. One's dog crap, one's cow crap, one's horse crap, and one's cat crap (the stinkiest of all; any cat lover will agree with me on this).

This merger will only give us 3 bowls of steaming crap, and instead of more herbivore crap, we're going to get more carnivore crap.

Terrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171507)

We need all the competition we can get in this industry. Now if this goes through and sprint becomes the same size as ATT and Verizon, welcome to the triopoly cartel of cell phone service in USA.

I would allow them to merge allright (2)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 4 months ago | (#47171545)

But they would have to give back some spectrum which would go back for sale to someone else.

Re:I would allow them to merge allright (1, Interesting)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about 4 months ago | (#47171593)

The thing is, that wouldn't really help. If they give up spectrum, it'll just be bought out by AT&T or Verizon, either through themselves or through shell corporations. Now, if they had to give back both spectrum and exclusive rights to some of their infrastructure so that competitors can come in, that would be a fix that might work.

Re:I would allow them to merge allright (3, Insightful)

schnell (163007) | about 4 months ago | (#47172703)

Now, if they had to give back both spectrum and exclusive rights to some of their infrastructure so that competitors can come in, that would be a fix that might work.

This is the thing I think people don't understand about the US cellular industry - you can't try to "create" a new competitor because it will fail. The reason is that cellular business is all about scale - precisely the thing that is driving the T-Mo/Sprint acquistion. Fundamentally, you need to have the same 30-40K+ cell towers to cover most of the population centers in the US whether you have one million users, 10 million, or 100 million. When you are distributing that same infrastructure costs across fewer users, your economics are far worse than the big guys and it's very very difficult to compete. Additionally, size brings additional benefits such as more clout when negotiating device costs from Apple or Samsung, better deals with network infrastructure providers, etc. Scale is everything.

So the problem with bringing in a new competitor is that it will take them many years to even get to a point equivalent to today's T-Mobile, which is struggling to make ends meet with a national network supporting 25 million users. Even if you subsidized out of taxpayer pockets the spectrum and some of the infrastructure, you'd just be propping up a company for the sake of competition that would have to merge/get bought by someone else eventually or remain uncompetitive on pricing and probably go out of business.

It's unfortunate for a variety of reasons... but when you have businesses with a high financial barrier to entry and a model that grows efficiency with scale, economically speaking you will always see a trend towards consolidation to the minimum number of viable players.

Re:I would allow them to merge allright (2)

Kelbear (870538) | about 4 months ago | (#47173349)

I'll also add that AT&T's failed attempt to acquire T-mobile, resulted in AT&T having to hand over $3 billion in cash to T-mobile for failure to complete the merger, allowing for the very significant LTE rollout to major metropolitan areas that has allowed T-mobile to obtain the dramatic increase in customers and brand improvement they've seen in the past few years.

If Sprint acquisition of T-mobile fails, they probably won't be handing over $3bil since Sprint is a much smaller player in the market than AT&T, but there's a good chance that they'll have to cough up a considerable amount of cash to T-mobile too (these merger-failure contingencies are common since the acquiree has to open up it's books and business plans to a competitor in good faith expectation that the merger will succeed).

Two different tech (4, Insightful)

slashkitty (21637) | about 4 months ago | (#47171551)

Aren't the two using two different cell technologies? How are they to be combined? Do tmobile users need to get new phones?

Re:Two different tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171563)

They'll do exactly the same thing they did when Sprint bought Nextel. They'll treat the T-Mobile customers like shit, forcing them to flee from their contract plans, charge them all a fucking $200 service fee for leaving, send it to collections to fuck with their credit, and then shut down all the old towers.

So yes, fuck you Sprint you cocksuckers!

Re:Two different tech (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171659)

Except, t-mobile doesn't have contracts any more and no intelligent person had them before anyway. While t-mobile's service leaves something to be desired and so too probably the customer service I'd not switch to another carrier as the alternatives are worse. AT&T is expensive as hell and had a cozy relationship with Apple (another evil operation). AT&T's benefit though is they are also on the GSM standard (which does mean they are my 2nd choice among major providers). Then comes Verizon. Well, just f'ing evil as hell. They lock you you, are unsupportive of GSM standards, etc. I never want to go back to Verizon. As far as Sprint goes I've always been weary... but I didn't know exactly why. One issue I have with Sprint though is that they aren't GSM based. I want my f'ing standards.

Re:Two different tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171757)

you exited a contract that had a $200 fee that you surely agreed to, then let a $200 debt go to collections? you really must be on the bottom rung of society.

Re:Two different tech (1)

sudden.zero (981475) | about 4 months ago | (#47171879)

T-Mobile doesn't have contracts anymore. So, it will be a different story this time. Sprint can't enforce contracts that don't exist.

Re:Two different tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171591)

Sprint is moving to LTE...

Re:Two different tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171633)

Not entirely. Voice will remain advanced CDMA. There are no plans for voice over LTE.

Re:Two different tech (2)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 4 months ago | (#47171839)

CDMA is a protocol, LTE is a catchphrase that says "When a better protocol is found, we'll send you the program to make it happen over the air!"

This was all planned about 10 years ago... when new things happen, there's new ways to compress.

If bowling ever becomes popular as a TV sport, there's going to have to be changes in MPEG standards. If you're watching the show on an iPhone... oh boy do we need to get ready. Get that?

Re:Two different tech (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 4 months ago | (#47172179)

Eh, on T-Mobile I'm already using "voice" [over IP] over LTE so a change to Sprint wouldn't affect me at all.

Re:Two different tech (3, Insightful)

businessnerd (1009815) | about 4 months ago | (#47172091)

This has become much less of a challenge than it would have been only just a few years ago. With more of the handset makers moving to the strategy of one device across all carriers and the carrier exclusive model almost dead (thankfully), most customers who have bought a mid to high end smartphone in the past two years likely already have both CDMA and GSM radios. I know at least if you have CDMA, you most likely also have GSM, not sure if the other way around holds true. In the short term, they will obviously have to maintain two networks, but over the long term, they need to pick one and begin to transition everyone over. If I were them, I would pick GSM simply because it is much closer to be a "standard" than CDMA and has a very strong global presence. This makes them more appealing to those moving from overseas and further strengthens the appeal of GSM in the US (If I choose Sprint but end up unhappy, I can take my phone to AT&T, but if I choose Verizon, my phone is stuck with Verizon). For transitioning, there is the very slow way: every new handset sold defaults to GSM until there are no more CDMAs (or few enough to pull the plug). They will also likely heavily promote cheap/free upgrades for anyone still on CDMA to speed things up. Or there is the quick way. Everyone has until X date to switch to GSM, and by the way, we have a lot of cheap/free phones to choose from, plus those new flagships that you know you gotta have right now. Slow is expensive, but will piss off less customers, the other will be cheaper, but could piss off more customers. AT&T and Verizon could also captitalize on those disgruntled customers and make it very easy and cost effective to switch (especially Verizon if Sprint chooses GSM and their CDMA customers want to bail). So in conclusion, it is a challenge, but not one without a solution, and nowadays, is a lot easier to solve.

Technical differences? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171571)

I wonder how they plan to deal with T-Mobile's GSM vs. Sprint's CDMA.

Re:Technical differences? (2)

Enry (630) | about 4 months ago | (#47171625)

Both are moving to LTE. By the time it gets approved and implemented we'll have VoLTE and it'll become even less of an issue.

Re: Technical differences? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171663)

Sprint is GSM, not CDMA.

Re: Technical differences? (1, Informative)

The-Forge (84105) | about 4 months ago | (#47171763)

Sprint is CDMA. [wikipedia.org]

Who writes these summaries? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171575)

"'A report from Forbes says that Sprint buying T-mobile for $32 billion is almost done."

Who talks like that? It's grammatically incorrect.

Re:Who writes these summaries? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171629)

Nonono. It's fine. Isn't it obvious that the report from Frobes is almost done?

Re:Who writes these summaries? (2)

arth1 (260657) | about 4 months ago | (#47171647)

"'A report from Forbes says that Sprint buying T-mobile for $32 billion is almost done."

Who talks like that? It's grammatically incorrect.

I'd think most people talk like that. Few would use the grammatically correct "A report from Forbes says that Sprint's buying T-Mobile for $32 billion is almost done."

Re:Who writes these summaries? (2)

sexconker (1179573) | about 4 months ago | (#47172833)

I would suggest "A report from Forbes says that Sprint buying T-Mobile for $32 billion is almost a done deal.", because this is what they fucking mean (not that it's true). Sprint buying T-Mobile is no where near done in terms of regulatory approval let alone execution. It is, however, a "done deal" since there fat cats have agreed and it's just a matter of time before the government allows some form of the deal through.

But...how? (1)

meustrus (1588597) | about 4 months ago | (#47171581)

The proposed AT&T+T-Mobile merger made sense, because they both use GSM over similar wavelengths. But how would Sprint and T-Mobile combine their network services? Their voice data at least is on completely different infrastructure.

Sprint and T-mobile should give up on LTE (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171705)

Cell phone networks don't have to be big. They can be small. What economies of scale would companies as large as Sprint and T-mobile gain from merging big, two incompatible networks? Sprint and T-mobile should just give up on updating their networks, and keep their existing 3G networks going, maybe with a lower price. 3G is good enough for many people. Verizon and At&t will be the companies with LTE, and their will be a few older, and cheaper networks.

Re:Sprint and T-mobile should give up on LTE (3, Insightful)

King_TJ (85913) | about 4 months ago | (#47171871)

I disagree. 1st. tier cellphone companies DO in fact have to be big .... The dollar amounts involved to roll out and maintain a cellular network across a whole country the size of the United States is steep enough that the little guys just can't accomplish it well.

What we do have room for are the 2nd. tier "regional carriers" -- and personally, I'm disappointed we haven't really seen more happening in that arena. If you're not big enough to compete with the likes of Verizon or AT&T in nationwide coverage, fine. How about focusing on providing top quality coverage and customer service, with good data performance, all within a few states?

For many years, I had an account with U.S. Cellular, in St. Louis, Missouri, and was very pleased with them. Their little marketing strategy of "all incoming calls are free" meant I didn't really need to buy a lot of cellular minutes on my plan. (It's relatively rare I place a call to someone vs. all the times I'm taking a call.) Signal strength and call quality were excellent too. Really, the only downside was a relative lack of choices in phones, because you had to select one designed to work on their network - and they didn't have as much pull as the top carriers to get the latest handsets first. Still, they'd typically manage to get at least 1 or 2 of the "hot" phones out there at any given time. (I had a Motorola Razr flip phone with them, when it was still the in thing.)

T-Mobile, IMO, has really gotten on a roll with upgrading its network to become something respectable. It has a lot of issues still, but as a current customer, I see evidence all the time that change is happening. (My phone has carrier updates pushed to it practically every week, as new towers come online.) Just last week, something changed where I live, too. For a couple days, all of us received "no service" or weak signals throughout the business day, but then suddenly, things came back up with a signal strength far superior to what we ever had before. (I used to use a signal booster in the house, but was able to turn it off after the upgrade.) Can't say if it was a new tower, or a modification or repair made to some existing one -- but it was a nice improvement.

Re:Sprint and T-mobile should give up on LTE (1)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 4 months ago | (#47172511)

I switched from Sprint to US Cellular when I moved to Maine for graduate school. They were the only carrier with decent reception there, and were recommended to me by nearly everyone I asked. I too had a Razr flip phone, and my experience was fine.

Now, a regional carrier works fine for some people, but doesn't really cut it for others. Today, I'm on AT&T and wouldn't even consider US Cellular. That's because I no longer live in Maine and travel (for business and for pleasure) quite a bit. What good is a cell phone if I can only use it in my own neighborhood? It's one thing to rent a phone when you fly to Japan or get a local SIM when you land in France, but nobody wants to deal with this much hassle when they're just driving to the next state over.

Re:Sprint and T-mobile should give up on LTE (1)

ProZachar (410739) | about 4 months ago | (#47171905)

Sprint can't give up on LTE. Sprint 3G IN THEIR HQ CITY is worse than dialup. Go to a baseball or football game here and you can just forget about having any data at all, which is funny, because they're a big Royals sponsor and have all kinds of in-stadium promotions where you text or tweet something, or use MLB At the Ballpark, or whatever. They keep saying "network vision is going to be awesome!" but I got tired of years of that promise never materializing and jumped to TMobile. And I have a close relative who works for Sprint.

Re:But...how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171895)

AT&T and T-Mo do not use similar wavelengths. They're both GSM but that doesn't matter too much. LTE is the future anyway, legacy networks hardly matter.

Re:But...how? (1)

CMYKjunkie (1594319) | about 4 months ago | (#47172851)

The proposed AT&T+T-Mobile merger made sense, because they both use GSM over similar wavelengths. But how would Sprint and T-Mobile combine their network services? Their voice data at least is on completely different infrastructure.

Hopefully better than Nextel + Sprint did!! As I recall the iDEN to CDMA transition was a clusterf***.

Different technologies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171599)

I'm curious how this will affect t-mobile users that purchase their own GSM phones. Sprint uses CDMA, so the phones are not compatible with the different networks.

Re:Different technologies (2)

arth1 (260657) | about 4 months ago | (#47171689)

My guess is that Sprint has seen the writing on the wall, and wants T-Mobile precisely for GSM. By offering GSM, they can now sell and support phones they couldn't before, especially international models that will all be GSM-based, and Sprint has to pay good money to get manufacturers to make CDMA models.

Re:Different technologies (2)

evilviper (135110) | about 4 months ago | (#47171965)

My guess is that Sprint has seen the writing on the wall, and wants T-Mobile precisely for GSM.

GSM and CDMA are both DEAD, the very second their LTE networks have equivalent coverage area.

And the market for international travelers, who want to keep using their cell phones, is positively MINUSCULE. I doubt practically ANYBODY other than Verizon Execs are signed-up for Verizon's "Global" service plans.

Re:Different technologies (2)

Hodr (219920) | about 4 months ago | (#47172435)

So you're not just wrong, you are incredibly wrong. Every place I have ever worked, and every person I have met who travels internationally for work uses their work cell phone.

They don't buy a separate phone, they don't look for compatible SIMs to swap in or out, they MAY go so far as to notify their secretary or travel clerk that they expect to use their business phone while in XY country.

Re:Different technologies (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 4 months ago | (#47173047)

Not to mention tourism, where visitors to the US will mostly have GSM phones, and don't especially like to be slapped with exorbitant roaming charges or no coverage at all outside the cities.
(I'm not mentioning US tourists with CDMA who won't get service abroad at all, because most Americans never travel outside their own state, let alone country.)

Re:Different technologies (1)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 4 months ago | (#47172527)

Japan is pretty much all CDMA. I'm pretty sure they buy a lot of cell phones over there too. There's a large market for CDMA phones regardless of what Sprint does.

Give them spectrum (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 4 months ago | (#47171621)

If increased competition is the goal, then give the smaller companies preference in spectrum auctions.

Multi-billion dollar spectrum auctions are a scam anyway, just a hidden tax that we all pay through higher cellular bills.

I don't get it (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 4 months ago | (#47171667)

"The news report also said that T-mobile will give up 67% share in exchange of 15% share of the merged company"
Can someone explain that to me? They're giving up a 67% share in a company that's about to not exist in order to have a 15% share in a company that is about to be themselves that they'd effectively own 100% of, because it is them.

Re:I don't get it (4, Informative)

DaphneDiane (72889) | about 4 months ago | (#47171863)

The T-mobile that sprint wants to buy is "T-Mobile US", the T-Mobile that is trading stakes is Deutsche Telekom and their T-Mobile International AG holding company.

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171865)

Right now Deutsche Telekom currently owns 67% of T-mobile USA.

After the deal, Deutsche Telekom will have $32 billion and 15% of the merged company.

Why is this hard?

Re:I don't get it (3, Interesting)

sexconker (1179573) | about 4 months ago | (#47172929)

Right now Deutsche Telekom currently owns 67% of T-mobile USA.

After the deal, Deutsche Telekom will have $32 billion and 15% of the merged company.

Why is this hard?

Because no one fucking mentioned T-Mobile USA, or Deutsche Telekom, or T-Mobile International AG, or T-Mobile US Inc.which is the actual fucking name of the piece of T-Mobile in question.

Re:I don't get it (1)

stephenmac7 (2700151) | about 4 months ago | (#47171935)

I don't know about the 67%, but T-Mobile is owned by Deutsche Telekom AG, which could get the 15% share of the merged corporation.

Re:I don't get it (1)

stephenmac7 (2700151) | about 4 months ago | (#47171983)

However, it seems Deutsche Telekom AG only has 67% of T-Mobile shares (see this article [reuters.com] for more details).

Re:I don't get it (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 4 months ago | (#47171975)

T-Mobile is an international company; only the US subsidiary is merging.

bribery will get you anywhere! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171687)

"One reason for that confidence: "They bribed the right politicians this time!"

Public frequencies (2)

RockGrumbler (1795608) | about 4 months ago | (#47171697)

If the FCC doesn't have power to regulate the internet, then it shouldn't have power to prohibit people from transmitting on any crazy frequency they want.

Re:Public frequencies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47172317)

If the FCC doesn't have power to regulate the internet, then it shouldn't have power to prohibit people from transmitting on any crazy frequency they want.

The internet isn't like the RF spectrum... at least it isn't any more... perhaps when everyone had hubs instead of switches it was... but if everyone decides to broadcast whatever they want, whenever they want, on what ever frequency pleases them packet collisions (interference) would become intolerable pretty much immediately.

That isn't even considering how many people would get microwave dishes on their roof with intent to cook their neighbors dog.

You're a bit late... (2)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 4 months ago | (#47171699)

Actually, new Sprint phones use both CDMA and TDMA at the same time... oops, that's called GSM!

CDMA2000 (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 months ago | (#47172855)

In the U.S. cell phone market, when people who aren't RF engineers say "CDMA", they usually mean the CDMA2000 stack [wikipedia.org] .

Today I learned (0)

Minter92 (148860) | about 4 months ago | (#47171717)

That Sprint still exists

Re:Today I learned (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 4 months ago | (#47172987)

The response to your quip was so weak that you could hear a pin drop [youtube.com] .

Unspecified: (2)

neminem (561346) | about 4 months ago | (#47171775)

Anyone have any idea what this will do for Sprint-based MVNOs? I am quite fond of the one I use (Ting), and am curious whether this will change anything, either good or bad. (Bad would be their service getting crappier or prices being forced upwards; good would be, for instance, Sprint phones being sold that allow swapping out sim cards because they support GSM. That'd be cool.)

Anybody remeber Nextel? (4, Interesting)

evilviper (135110) | about 4 months ago | (#47171901)

The Nextel merger worked out pretty poorly for Sprint. Remember why? Because their two networks were incompatible, yet Sprint was required to keep it operating. It didn't get 3G upgrades, yet they had to keep operating until quite recently. There was a massive customer exodus, and Sprint was left holding the bag.

T-Mobile, similarly uses a different and incompatible 3G cellular standard than Sprint, and on entirely different frequencies. Yet Sprint is out to do this all again.

Seems like they've been planning this for some time, and are absolutely dependent on the merger going through, because Sprint has been a complete laggard with LTE deployments, despite their massive modernization effort, and doesn't seem to be trying AT ALL.

Frankly, the Nextel merger could have given Sprint the best network and LTE coverage around, as a happy-accident... Nextel, with their 800MHz spectrum had great coverage, on-par with Verizon's, particularly in mountains, valley, indoors, etc. AT&T and Verizon spent their 800MHz spectrum on 3G networks and have none left. They're using 1900MHz spectrum for their LTE networks, with a resultant reduction in coverage depth.

Sprint wasn't allowed to touch Nextel's spectrum, in the 3G days, so they only freed up their big block of 800MHz when LTE was first being deployed. With a little foresight, they could have put 800MHz LTE radios on their towers, and immediately boasted the best LTE coverage. With great LTE coverage, they could save money by neglecting their 3G network, and pretty quickly stop selling phones that are able to fall-back to anything other than 800MHz LTE. After all, LTE can do simultaneous voice and data, even if AT&T and Verizon have been slow to use it, perhaps for the above reasons.

But Sprint was half-hearted about their great opportunity... first saying they'd use some of that 800MHz band to improve 3G coverage, then later retracting that incredibly stupid idea. And while they've promoted their "Network Vision" upgrades for a couple years, they've still only very slowly expanded their LTE coverage to more than the very biggest urban areas, even skipping some major ones.

And they didn't ever leverage the WiMax network they spent so much money deploying. Sure, it's not LTE, but by just releasing a dual WiMax/LTE phone, Sprint could have boasted the biggest "4G" network from day #1, and they could have begun LTE deployments everywhere they didn't have WiMax, giving wider coverage, quicker. Instead, there's no WiMax/LTE phones to be found, and their LTE deployment simply overlapped their early WiMax deployment, resulting in no net-gain of extra coverage area.

I'm cautiously hopeful that this merger will be what they need, to finally compete. But each time before that they've gotten a big opportunity, they've squandered it. From the outside, Sprint seems to be deeply dysfunctional and lacking in any foresight or innovative ideas, copying the big two in the slowest and least efficient way, possible. The opportunity they have to merge the Sprint and T-Mobile LTE networks with dual-band phones, and quickly deprecate their 3G networks, seems just as likely to be squandered and bungled.

Reverse Merger (1)

rsborg (111459) | about 4 months ago | (#47172235)

The Nextel merger worked out pretty poorly for Sprint. Remember why? Because their two networks were incompatible, yet Sprint was required to keep it operating. It didn't get 3G upgrades, yet they had to keep operating until quite recently. There was a massive customer exodus, and Sprint was left holding the bag.

T-Mobile, similarly uses a different and incompatible 3G cellular standard than Sprint, and on entirely different frequencies. Yet Sprint is out to do this all again.

This is going to be Apple buying Next, not Sprint buying Nextel - it's said that most of the TMO execs will be holding the reins..

Re:Anybody remeber Nextel? (2, Insightful)

rabtech (223758) | about 4 months ago | (#47173101)

This is wildly inaccurate.

Full disclosure: I'm a Sprint shareholder (at $2.70, back when people were predicting bankruptcy). I've been following them for some time.

Seems like they've been planning this for some time, and are absolutely dependent on the merger going through, because Sprint has been a complete laggard with LTE deployments, despite their massive modernization effort, and doesn't seem to be trying AT ALL.

Actually Sprint has engaged in a nationwide replacement of all their radios and base stations, including installing fiber to almost all of their towers and using gigabit microwave to connect the towers that can't get fiber to ones that can.

Sprint's major problem with 3G was the outdated backhaul. They were still using T1 lines everywhere, as they first got distracted with Nextel, then sunk money into WiMax hoping it would take off as the next-gen standard **.

I have LTE now in the DFW area and it's fast and works well.

Sprint wasn't allowed to touch Nextel's spectrum, in the 3G days, so they only freed up their big block of 800MHz when LTE was first being deployed. With a little foresight, they could have put 800MHz LTE radios on their towers, and immediately boasted the best LTE coverage. With great LTE coverage, they could save money by neglecting their 3G network, and pretty quickly stop selling phones that are able to fall-back to anything other than 800MHz LTE. After all, LTE can do simultaneous voice and data, even if AT&T and Verizon have been slow to use it, perhaps for the above reasons.

The Nextel 800mhz spectrum is a very small slice; it only has enough space for one 5x5 LTE channel and 1 CDMA voice channel, no more. If they had started making the switch, they would have cut off their existing Nextel customers overnight. Not to mention the fact that LTE wasn't even a standard at the time and no vendors offered LTE tower equipment and no handsets supported it. If they had tried to squeeze a CDMA data channel into that space it would have been painfully slow (far less than the 3MB theoretical max).

FYI: They have been turning on 800mhz and I get noticably improved performance inside elevators and building interiors. The goal is 2.5Ghz for crowded urban areas (where you don't want towers to cover much distance), 1900Mhz for general use, and 800Mhz for indoor areas and rural coverage.

But Sprint was half-hearted about their great opportunity... first saying they'd use some of that 800MHz band to improve 3G coverage, then later retracting that incredibly stupid idea. And while they've promoted their "Network Vision" upgrades for a couple years, they've still only very slowly expanded their LTE coverage to more than the very biggest urban areas, even skipping some major ones.

Actually they completely rebuilt their network, including all backhaul/routing, all radios, all tower equipment. That project is almost complete now. Compare LTE coverage in 2012 to today and you can see a massive difference. You can't do that overnight.

With Nextel, the actual problem was they waited for Qualcomm to add PTT tech (push to talk) to CDMA so they'd have a replacement for the IDEN handsets. Right as that became available, everyone stopped caring and wanting smartphones with data plans. In hindsight, they should have forced Nextel users to switch immediately and stopped running dual networks for no good reason (doubling tower and backhaul costs). They'd have lost the same number of customers in the end but saved a bunch of money.

And they didn't ever leverage the WiMax network they spent so much money deploying. Sure, it's not LTE, but by just releasing a dual WiMax/LTE phone, Sprint could have boasted the biggest "4G" network from day #1, and they could have begun LTE deployments everywhere they didn't have WiMax, giving wider coverage, quicker. Instead, there's no WiMax/LTE phones to be found, and their LTE deployment simply overlapped their early WiMax deployment, resulting in no net-gain of extra coverage area.

** Actually WiMax was a use-it-or-lose-it deal. They had to deploy something to the 2.5Ghz bands or they would lose access, but LTE wasn't ready so they deployed just enough WiMax to preserve their spectrum. They have already started deploying LTE to that band.

The whole purpose behind spinning off Clear was to get other companies to waste capital on Sprint's behalf, greatly lowering the cost of preserving that spectrum while they rebuilt their network, shut down IDEN, and got on track for the future. So in that sense it worked perfectly.

I'm cautiously hopeful that this merger will be what they need, to finally compete. But each time before that they've gotten a big opportunity, they've squandered it. From the outside, Sprint seems to be deeply dysfunctional and lacking in any foresight or innovative ideas, copying the big two in the slowest and least efficient way, possible. The opportunity they have to merge the Sprint and T-Mobile LTE networks with dual-band phones, and quickly deprecate their 3G networks, seems just as likely to be squandered and bungled.

Masayoshi Son's access to unlimited money from the BoJ (for some value of "unlimited") makes acquisition a good move.

Sprint has a modern network and is executing well, it simply takes time to roll out the network, then it takes time for everyone to upgrade to an LTE phone capable of using the new network.

Buying T-Mobile would give them compatible spectrum in many, many markets - they share a lot of 1900Mhz assignments. Sprint could immediately begin switching some of those to Sprint LTE on day one. Many phones would be compatible with both. After the typical two year replacement cycle, Sprint could begin forcing everyone off old phones and finish the conversion. That's the big key - you can't let it linger like Nextel, you have to rip the bandaid off. The only question mark is the AWS spectrum - not one Sprint currently uses. Do you try to keep it and upgrade your towers to support it? Or do you swap/sell it?

Softbank (Japan) bought Sprint, n'est-ce pas? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47171991)

Doesn't this mean that *Softbank* is buying T-MO? I realize that mechanically Sprint is "a wholly owned subsidiary" or something, and can go about buying other corporations, But in the end the control of what (is now) T-Mo does will come from HQ at Softbank, yes? (Naturally, they'll have to sign and abide by agreements with the NSA, FBI, other security interests, etc. etc.)

R.I.P. T-Mobile (1)

zeroryoko1974 (2634611) | about 4 months ago | (#47171999)

Nice knowing you T-Mobile, it will be sad seeing you run into the ground. Say hello to Nextel when your face is in the dirt.

Economics of a triopoly? (3, Interesting)

swb (14022) | about 4 months ago | (#47172099)

I think it's generally assumed that a poorly regulated monopoly is bad -- rent seeking, no innovation, etc. A duopoly isn't much better, even when it's not explicit you end up with defacto collusion on pricing and market segmentation.

Is a triopoly any better? Is there any economics that says how many vendors in a market are necessary to improve efficiency and consumer choice?

Re:Economics of a triopoly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47172817)

No, because any size group of vendors can act as a trade organization and still keep new competitors out of the market, until at least one vendor defects and starts actually competing. Stockholders who have other rrelated assets may put quite a bit of pressure on the vendors to stay close and noncompetitive. For example, imagine a major stockholder in a gas station chain who also has both refinery and oil drilling interests. That stockholder may well decide to avoid competitive behavior at any particular level of that vertical integration, which will pass on artifially high prices to any of several groups, from distributers to gas station franchise holders, to end consumers (and of course, the end users always have to face the results, whereever in the chain they start).

Short Form: There's no number, because any number of vendors can be part of a larger hidden organization, which can still be a monopoly.

Posting as AC to keep modding this discussion.

Re:Economics of a triopoly? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 4 months ago | (#47173059)

You could have 100 carriers and they wouldn't have to compete because they control the infrastructure for a necessary service. They'll charge out the ass and people will pay. The minute someone tries to cut prices the others attack, then subsume. This is how we got to the point we're at now. Only regulation keeps this from happening since you and I can't go out and start our own competing telecoms without having billions for infrastructure, spectrum, and bribes.

Jesus Christ what a disaster (2)

gelfling (6534) | about 4 months ago | (#47172151)

2 different systems on two different spectrums using 2 different technologies. Nextel II electric boogaloo. Just when you thought Sprint couldn't get any worse. Sprint is now the biggest reseller of AT&T minutes. Awesome. They will exit the branded retail market soon.

This all about bonus's for the top execs (2)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#47172201)

That is the motivation, nothing more.

noooooo! (4, Insightful)

whistlingtony (691548) | about 4 months ago | (#47172819)

I'm a T-Mobile customer, specifically because I have a GSM phone (Sprint ditched/is ditching GSM last I heard) and because T-Mobile doesn't have any stupid contracts. I pay, they give me service, we're both happy. I LIKE T-Mobile. Sure, I don't always have great coverage. it's a minor distraction at worst. It works fine.

I have my own phone (I buy used Nexus S phones, and reflash them with the latest stock Android. No stupid carrier BS on my phone!). I LIKE paying $150 for a phone, and still getting the latest wiz bangs. I LIKE not having a contract. Yes, I even like feeling a little superior to the Morons that buy new phones every 2 years and shell out $ for something that's not really essentially any better than what I have.

Damn. I hope Sprint doesn't buy T-Mobile. If they do, I hope they don't F it up...

Re:noooooo! (2)

werepants (1912634) | about 4 months ago | (#47172955)

Sprint has never been GSM. They've always been CDMA - which makes this merger puzzling, because they have two incompatible networks.

R.I.P. T-Mo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47172907)

So death to T-Mobile. Less choice worse service for the mobile consumer.
Sprint will gut and destroy T-Mobile just like they did to NEXTEL.

Ware do I go now? I left Verizon for what eventually devolved into AT&T jumped that ship for NEXTEL.
Then Spint raped NEXTEL to death so I fled to T-Mobile.

GSM and CDMA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47172917)

gonna be interesting. T-Mobile uses GSM but Sprint PCS doesn't. or maybe I'm behind the latest news. I wonder if T-mobile or Sprint will change their phone plans. T-mobile is nice. I still have an old phone that has 1900 and 900 MHz and Edge, I think. 2G internet is really slow. lol

Only real downside of T-mobile is that it doesn't work inside big buildings. Maybe my phone is too old and 2G has issues with modern buildings with lots of metal and concrete. The pay as you go plans are decent. can't wait to find a job then I can switch to a monthly data plan for about $50.

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