A federal judge in New York ultimately took T-Mobile’s track record of aggressive competition into account in ruling last week that a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint Corporation would be good for consumers. In doing so, he rejected a challenge by a group of 14 states worried that the three remaining carriers would have fewer incentives to compete on prices and quality.

Though the deal still needs a few more approvals, T-Mobile expects to close it as early as April 1.

T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion takeover of Sprint could mean higher or lower phone bills, depending on whom you ask.

Here’s what a combined T-Mobile-Sprint company could mean for you and your phone bill:


Sprint customers will get a T-Mobile bill, but that transition may take a few years. If you are a T-Mobile customer, you might not see many changes. However, because the goal of the takeover is to roll out a next-generation 5G cellular network, subscribers of both are ultimately expected to get faster service.


As part of the deal, Dish will get Sprint’s prepaid Boost Mobile customers. Dish has committed to building its own cellular network, but it will use T-Mobile’s for now, so customers aren’t supposed to see service quality drop.


That has yet to be tested.

To win approval, T-Mobile agreed to sell millions of Sprint’s prepaid customers to Dish, a satellite TV company with a shrinking customer base. T-Mobile also has to rent its network to Dish while the fledgling rival builds its own. Dish is also required to build a 5G network over the next several years.

Sprint is an existing company with more than 40 million customers. Dish would start from scratch building a network that will cost billions of dollars. It gets only 9 million customers from the deal and will have to fight to win more.

As for the network, Dish already owns spectrum, or airwave rights, but hasn’t been using it. The deal would give Dish additional airwaves that travel far and work well in rural areas. Dish is supposed to put those to use in its own network, but it has to rely on T-Mobile’s network in the meantime.

The ideal is that Dish will grow into a competitor and bring the number of nationwide carriers back up to four. There’s a lot at risk for Dish. It faces up to $2.2 billion in fines if it fails to create a 5G network that serves 70% of the country by 2023.


T-Mobile was instrumental in pushing the more established players to be more consumer friendly, doing away with two-year phone contracts and offering unlimited data plans. T-Mobile has offered goodies for its customers like free or discounted Netflix and free international data. With just three major providers, the worry is that there would be less incentive to add services that consumers like or to compete on price.

T-Mobile has promised not to raise prices for three years, but after that, it’s fair game. But T-Mobile CEO John Legere said that the company will continue to be the “Un-carrier” and keep Verizon, AT&T and others on their toes.

“Look out Dumb and Dumber and Big Cable – we are coming for you … and you haven’t seen anything yet!” Legere said in a statement. Legere is stepping down as CEO in April; T-Mobile Chief Operating Officer and President Mike Sievert will replace him.

In his ruling, Judge Victor Marrero in New York said he found T-Mobile’s promises credible.


Opinion is divided. Generally, fewer competitors mean higher prices, which is why the Department of Justice required the companies to sell part of its business to Dish to keep the number of major wireless providers at four. This is also central to the states’ challenge to the deal.

But Marrero said the states had not convincingly argued that the deal would lead to higher prices and lower quality service. He said Dish would become an aggressive competitor, while T-Mobile had the incentive to continue competing aggressively.


5G is a new technical standard for wireless networks that promises faster speeds; less lag, or “latency,” when connecting to the network; and the ability to connect many devices to the internet without bogging it down. 5G networks will ideally be better able to handle more users, lots of sensors and heavy traffic.

The major U.S. wireless companies have all launched 5G networks and will continue rolling them out. There aren’t many users yet, as the networks are limited in coverage, and few phones are currently equipped for 5G.

Sprint’s 5G network is now in parts of nine cities, while T-Mobile says its version already could cover 200 million people. They have promised to cover 97% of the U.S. within three years of finalizing the deal and 99% in six years. T-Mobile says its goal is a nationwide network that will be five times faster than current LTE service in a few years and 15 times faster by 2024.

T-Mobile and Sprint would have built a 5G network even without combining, but Marrero agreed with the companies that their standalone networks would be more limited in scope and take longer to build.

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