Skip to main content

T-Mobile merger with Sprint looks more likely as Softbank and Deutsche Telekom agree on sale

Softbank is making an end-run around concerns about a merger of Sprint and T-Mobile US by instead hitting up T-Mobile's parent company Deutsche Telekom. As reported by Japanese news agency Kyodo, Japan-based Softbank has entered into an agreement with Germany-based Deutsche Telekom to buy the latter's ownership stake in US carrier T-Mobile. The US Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice have expressed their concerns about the potential for such consolidation in the US cellular market, and the move by Softbank would likely end up still being heavily scrutinized.

The end result (a Sprint/T-Mobile merger) would likely still be the same, though this move might bring the two companies as separate entities under the same umbrella corporation first. Softbank bought Sprint last year for $21.6 billion, and they've been vocal about their desire to also buy T-Mobile. Sprint, too, has been pursuing T-Mobile, though it's more likely that Softbank's even deeper pockets would be better suited to such an acquisition.

We don't have any indication right now of how much the deal may end up costing Softbank (estimates range up to $50 billion), though T-Deutsche Telekom's 67% stake in T-Mobile US. When AT&T attempted to buy T-Mobile and was shot down in 2011, the purchase prices was set at a whopping $39 billion. T-Mobile of 2011 was a radically different company than T-Mobile of today. A good portion of T-Mobile's success today actually comes thanks to the failure of that acquisition, which garnered T-Mobile a multi-billion-dollar break-up fee from AT&T, as well as the spectrum needed to enhance their network.

Deutsche Telekom has expressed interest in the past in unloading their share of T-Mobile US, much like last year's massive sale of Vodafone's stake in Verizon Wireless to Verizon. With Deutsche Telekom wanting out of the US, and Softbank wanting to expand rapidly in the US, it seems all but inevitable that T-Mobile will trade hands. But will such a sale and merger be good for US consumers, and what will happen to the Uncarrier in the process?

Source: Kyodo; Via: Reuters

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

  • Well, they both together could do a lot better. In a sense, T-Mobile and Sprint need each other to compete with Att and Verizon. I just hope they ditch the Sprint name all together... Cause Sprint sucks. Brought to you by the Nexus M8
  • Agreed
  • Yeah them together can now have two WP for stock...
  • What doesn't make sense are the two incompatible network. Hell sprint went through that once with buying Nextel and managing two networks as once sucked for end users, now it can happen again hooray. If T-Mobile even completed that freaking network refarm to use 1900 for WCDMA I would have switched months ago. Reverting to Edge for calls and texting sucks (its like Verizon reverting to 1x) because my phones don't support that elusive 1700/2100 combo they use.
  • Sprint LTE phones support GSM 2G and 3G. And LTE is the future. Cdma will be turned off in 5 years or less. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • Maybe they will be Sprint T-Mobile, Mobile T-Sprint, T-Sprint Mobile
  • Agree with this
  • ATT made more sense. I wonder how many people will jump ship just because of this news.
  • Depending on wow they structure after the sell, I may be leaving T-Mobile and going back to AT&T
  • I'll be leaving and going to AT&T. I want no part of this frankenstein merger. And I've been with T-mobile for ten years.
  • I may do the same
  • Same here (both the ten years and the leaving for AT&T or Verizon)  I have a general dislike for all things Sprint from a previous incident and considering that issue has not and likely will never be resolved to my satisfaction, I have no desire touse Sprint or Sprint related products as long as I draw breath on this earth or any other planet, realm or reality.
  • Grow up. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • I agree and what I find is funny is that sprint had a big part in why the merger between att and t mobile didn't go through.
  • This isn't Sprint. This is Softbank. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • NO
  • Noooooooo :(
  • I agree. I've been with T-Mobile for 9 years or so. If this changes our rates, customer support, amount of WP devices carried, or windows phone support for the worse...I will leave T-Mobile
  • I'm new to T-Mobile, about a year, but I don't want to go back to Sprint. There is hope they will keep the companies basically separate, but I doubt that will last. If things change for the worse, will have to go seek someone else though not a fan of AT&T or Verizon so with all the consolidation, may be stuck.
  • I would rather T-Mobile take over sprint than sprint take over T-Mobile.
  • I think I would prefer that too.
  • Ditto
  • Yeah that as maybe a dual ownership with ms mobile oy would be good for them but they will need to refarm wimax like bell/Rogers has in Canada even though there aren't many manufacturers supporting this
  • Agreed. T-Mobile has the better CEO, better phones, better plans, GSM phones with SIM cards, etc...
  • It's Softbank talking over both. But hey no one on tech forums seems to like reality Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • Maybe you need some reality. They've already purchased Sprint and have mad it clear that they want to purchase T-mobile and force it to merge with Sprint. So, any way you look at it T-mobile would be forced to merge with Sprint. If it happens, I and many others will leave and go to one o the other carriers.
  • Nooo
  • I sincerely hope the FCC and DoJ do what's right and stop this trainwreck from happening. I actually read about this earlier, and it freaked me out enough to immediately request unlock codes for my 925 and 810 just in case.
  • Then I guess you want T-Mobile to go bankrupt. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • If the only alternative is to merge with Sprint, it doesn't matter.
  • If Sprint ditches their name and they rapidly iron out the whole CDMA vs GSM incompatibility issues... Maybe it wouldn't be so bad.
  • LTE. And LTE phones on Sprint support GSM Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • If this happens, what would happen to Romania? I don't know much but T-Mobile was (or still is) about to enter our market with the fuse of Romtelecom & Cosmote. Any ideas?
  • More than likely nothing. This would only impact T-Mobile USA. If anything, it would help, as it would give Deutsch Telekom more capital to invest in other markets.
  • I think this is controlled by T-Mobile germany.
  • Brace yourselves, anti-Sprint comments are coming.
  • Yes please. Softbank all the way.
  • Maybe, just maybe... there's a silver lining to this. T-Mobile has been more accepting of Windows Phone than Sprint. I'm hoping such a merger would kick their trust and support of the Windows Phone platform into gear. The silver lining ultimately being more Windows Phone devices, and even some Lumias, which Sprint has been avoiding for the longest time.
  • Please check the Sprint News Room.  LOL.
  • Off topic but some negative PR against wp in India that watsapp is no more on wp forever. We have to get watsapp back as of these rumours get going then wp cannot survive then
  • Way off topic....
  • Att and tmo also agreed to a sale, didn't happen. Hope this one fails too.
  • If you hope this fails then you are daft. But hey your American. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • His American what?  Come on, don't just leave the sentence fragment hanging like that!.  Finish the thought!
  • "Your" American? Does that mean he owns an American?
  • ...and that's what you called Uncarrier 5.0
  • After listening to Masa San at the CodeCon and from my personal experinces using SoftBank in Japan. I think he would be able to mix things up. Softbank vs NTT is what Sprint/T-mobile vs ATT/Verizon would be.
  • Leaving for Verizon in a month or two; due to 810's T-Mo corporate issues and general rural voice/data coverage needs.
  • I would go ATT over Verizon. No CDMA crap for me! Or hell you could always try out AIO - Cricket which runs on ATT's network and you could even bring your 810 with you if unlocked and it supports the right frequencies.
  • Once you go Verizon you dont go back.
  • This is Terrible news..for Tmobile.... Son cant even manage to turn Sprint around and he is going to be able to keep TMO's momentum from fading?? This merger should not be allowed...Sprint has already demonstrated how piss poor their management is....and now this will all but seal the nail in the coffin for all the people who came to soon as this news is made widely will see a screeching halt to the customer growth tmo has been one who left sprint wants to be associated with them again...... Now TMO is going to have to manage their networks and deal with Sprint's Archaic network structure.... I cant see any good for the customers long before Sprint undoes all the good changes that tmo implemented
  • Son hasn't managed to turn Sprint around? You just not pay attention. If you want T-Mobile to have a future you better hope this deal happens. But hey your American can't expect you to stop being selfish and think. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • The optimistic part of me thinks sprint would act rationally and adopt/expand on T-Mobiles recent pro-consumer moves. Otherwise, if they increase prices or reduce features, people will jump ship and Softbank will have wasted 50 billion. I'm ready to jump ship to AIO the second things go south.
  • DON'T go with aio (now Cricket).  They completely screwed Lumia 620 owners.  4 months late, they canceled the Lumia Black update.  Go with net10/st or any other AT&T MVNO.
  • T-Mobile's customers are used to it (Hello fellow 810 owners!). But if it is a concern (and it is for me) you can use any ATT phone on AIO/Cricket, and hope that ATT doesn't join the support dropping bandwagon.  I am using an ATT 1020 on cricket myself, so far so good.
  • I ditched Sprint primarily because of their lack of Windows Phones.  Sorry for the people on T-Mobile.
  • NASCAR Softbank Cup Series
  • Great... I left Sprint a few months ago because of horrible coverage, outrageous rates, and terrible customer service. T-Mobile has had great coverage, much better pricing, and the customer service has always been friendly and curteous.    Looks like I'll have to jump to AIO once the boat anchor of Sprint starts dragging T-Mobile down with it.
  • Sprint and T-Mobile pricing is practically the same. So good try there And you can have had experience with customer service anywhere but Sprints is always highly rated.
    Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • Another fragment!  Also missing punctuation.. So good try their?  So good, try their what?  So good, try their roast beef?  It might be good but I think I will leave the meat cooking to businesses in the food industry.
  • Please no. Please don't bring more Japan into USA
  • Xenophobic twat
    Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • Looks like ill be ditching tmobile faster than Deutsch Telekom is.
  • And looks like you are just another low intelligence American who doesn't want to see things get better. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • Hands down.. the best customer service I've ever had is from T-Mobile...  Sure... I've been with them forever and I did get the bad apple here and there on the phone... just hang up and redial... 90% chance to get one of the all-stars.  whenever I got not so hit service from a person... it was always a "thats weird" moment.  I would say its about 5 times in 10 years.  I hope they keep the good people...  If it were up to me.. the great employees would be promoted and they would buy sprint.. and start getting better phones... I want the Lumia 1020 and Icon...  even though the 925 is a great phone and the updates are flowing...  I want to use my Jump program for frequent hardware updates.  :)
  • On the upside...maybe a larger competitive network will bring better WP models to those who are already on T-Mobile or Sprint.
  • We all know its all about that Cricket
  • Ugh... PLEASE don't ruin an awesome carrier.  T-Mobile just got their mojo back.
  • Yeah we did though.
  • If this deal brings about something I'm interested in like the 1020,1520, 930 and future high-end Windows Phones then you can count my teeth cause I'll be smiling. If things are not to change in that department then I really could care less unless my monthly bill starts changing.
  • Yikes. I am with T-Mobile. I hope the service only improves without price hikes.
  • Noooooooooooooooo!!!
  • Yes Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • Blargh.  I dont' see this benefitting TMO.  Sprint would at best drag us down badly.  And frankly both Sprint and TMO's WP support is a joke, so I guess that wouldn't really change.  
  • Softbank. Not Sprint. Softbank would run it differently. Also it would be good for consumers. And T Mo execs have came out in support.
    Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • I left sprint for T-mobile in 2011, not looking to go back. Hopefully this doesn't go through and if it does hopefully Softbank or T-mobile is still in control and not sprint.
  • Softbank will be in control and from reports so will T-Mobile's management. B Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • This could be a win for the consumers ultimately. If the buy out happens, Softbank can use T-mobile's faster GSM network for new consumer business while offering Sprint users new plans on T-mobile and ween them off Sprint's CDMA. They could then use Sprint's network as a way to extrapolate cash by selling it to Verizon piece by piece, zone by zone to help bolster their coverage and have a positive cash flow for years to come. That or sell it off all at once and use the assets to build up their GSM network even further. I mean after all isn't this what business is all about anymore. You buy your competition and use their assets and patents to further themselves in the open market either through royalties or litigation. Just ask Cupertino.
  • Or they could keep Sprint's frequencies and use them for their own GSM bands.  Ideally it would be a lot like what happened when ATT (GSM) bought Cricket (CDMA).  ATT is moving all of the existing Cricket customers to the ATT GSM/LTE network, shutting down the existing CDMA cricket network (and cancelling the sprint MVNO partnership) and re-purposing the frequencies to make the ATT GSM/LTE network better.
  • What spectrum did Cricket have? They were an MVNO. Didn't that mean they piggybacked off someone else's network, namely Sprint? Or so i believed...
  • They piggybacked off of sprint for nationwide coverage. But they also ran their own local networks and they had their own spectrum.  AT&T put more value in the spectrum than the customers when they made the purchase.  Cricket will cease all CDMA operations within one year.  
  • Is this what uncarrier 5.0 is going to be? If so...hopefully nothing changes for the worse....or I'll go to AT&T. Hopefully John will clear this up and calm some nerves at the 5.0 event!
  • Damn it!
  • Softbank is known for agressive pricing. So I actually think this move will beneift consumer, at least in short term.  If FCC is really about large mobile carrier abusing their power, they should investigate the ridiculousness charge of text messages. 
  • And should break up At&t and Verizon into 2 smaller carriers. But they don't actually care. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • Ugggh, hello Verizon
  • Nothing Sprint ever did has ever worked. Why would this be any better?  There is a name for doing the same thing expecting a different result.
  • You seem to be forgetting or just stupid. This isn't Sprint this is Softbank. And what Sprint has been doing with their recent plans and Spark is working. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • And yet they're still losing money. But, hey, you must have stock in Verizon or AT&T because that's the only ones who will benefit from this because of the mass exodus from T-mobile. It's easy to leave now because they have no contracts.
  • You seem to be living in the moment paco and very emotional to boot.  Sprint should  be sold off as spare parts.
  • A lot of people will run for their lives. I wouldn't know where to run. I hate Sprint, and Att. Verizon is way too expensive. I like being able to pop my sim into a new phone when I feel like it. Can someone just give me $50 bil and I'll buy T-mobile and keep everything the way it is.
  • You can get what you want with Cricket.  ATT without the too expensive part.
  • Ugh. I really don't want to have to switch from T-Mo. I am already annoyed about the lack of Windows Phone support or enthusiasm. People who work at all the T-Mobile stores in my area are straight-up assholes when I talk to them about Windows Phone (even if I merely ask if they have cases or something). This would only make it worse.
  • Then why not switch?  What's keeping you with them?
  • Dickhead salespeople aren't that much of an issue, I mentioned it because I see it a lot. That's probably an issue with regional management, and I live in an area that has lots of miserable people. I like T-Mo for their plan pricing, EIP options, online/phone customer service, and network performance in the areas I need it to work. They will always have Windows Phones, maybe not the best ones, but what they have is good enough and the better devices on other carriers aren't worth the compromises, especially on plan pricing.
  • What if you owe Sprint and went to T-Mobile and Sprint buyout T-Mobile would that effect me
  • No... I has tmobile which I left in 2005 with an etf, went to Verizon 2 years then att 2 years . Then went back to tmobile in 2010 no problem with out paying my bill.
  • The only thing I read out of just the headline was, "yay! I may finally get a Windows Phone Nokia Lumia device!!" (I'm with Sprint, and been dying for a Lumia) The anti-merger sentiment read here is interesting and could be true, but at first, once again saying as a Sprint customer since eternity, this is good news to me.
  • Sprint is a very bad wireless company. Sprint uses CDMA. T-Mobile uses GSM. This would be bad for all subscribers of both companies! AT&T uses GSM network just like T-Mobile and that merger/acquisition would've been a match made in heaven!
  • Sprint phones are also GSM. As LTE is next generation GSM. Also their phones support 2G and 3G gsm bands. Also the future is LTE. Those of you that say network issues haven't done your research. Also it's Softbank running the show. Not Sprint. And Softbank knows what they are doing Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • Go Verizon and get an Icon, all problems solved!
  • No just no FCC please don't agree to this! Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • If you want a strong wireless industry you better hope this happens. Posted via Windows Phone Central App