Federal Judge Clears the Path for Huge T-Mobile/Sprint Merger

Your mobile choices are shrinking, but at least 5G will arrive faster

What: A Federal judge just cleared the huge T-Mobile/Sprint merger, which will close on April 1.

How: After a year of legal wrangling, the Federal District Court Judge cleared a path for turning the new T-Mobile into the third-largest mobile carrier.

Why Do You Care: If you’re a customer of either T-Mobile or Sprint, you may eventually see some changes in service options, prices, 5G availability, and even home broadband options.

Side-by-side of the T-Mobile and Sprint logos
T-Mobile and Sprint 

T-Mobile and Sprint’s nearly year-long battle to merge and create a more massive T-Mobile mobile and broadband carrier option is, it appears, finally over. A Federal Court in New York essentially approved the merger, possibly changing your mobile carrier options forever.

While Sprint and T-Mobile’s U.S. mobile carrier market shares trailed far behind those of AT&T and Verizon, they were still considered part of the Big Four carrier options. Combined, the two companies will virtually tie with Verizon and challenge AT&T. As part of the deal. Sprint is divesting some of its pre-paid business and T-Mobile will provide infrastructure and retail support to turn Dish into a potential large fourth carrier. It remains to be seen if customers shifted to Dish remain with the network or jump to the new, larger T-Mobile.

Since the companies announced their merger plans in April 2019, the pair have engaged in long negotiations with the DOJ and FCC to satisfy their monopoly concerns, However, States Attorney Generals have consistently fought the merger.

Barring any further challenges (and there may still be some from States Attorney Generals), Sprint and T-Mobile customers will see few changes in the short term.

Long-term, T-Mobile is promising:

  • The same or lower prices for all its combined customers
  • Better rural mobile broadband coverage
  • A new in-home broadband option to compete with cable broadband
  • A nation-wide 5G network.

On that last point, Sprint and T-Mobile are currently using slightly different 5G technologies: Massive MIMO and Millimeter wave. They’re related, but not combined right now. Ostensibly, they could be used together in a future, wider 5G network. The result might be that new T-Mobile customers end up with the most ubiquitous 5G network in the U.S.

T-Mobile’s outspoken CEO John Legere will remain in the lead role and the company’s COO and President, Mike Sievert, will continue with the same duties for the new T-Mobile. Sprint’s Executive Chairman Marcelo Claure’s role remains undefined.

As for what consumers can expect, the ever-enthusiastic Legere said in a release, “Look out Dumb and Dumber and Big Cable – we are coming for you … and you haven’t seen anything yet!”

The merger’s set to close on April 1, 2020.