Sprint and T-Mobile are reportedly on the verge of finally agreeing on a merger, according to a report from CNBC, which claims that the two carriers are closing in on a $26 billion dollar deal as early as this Sunday.
The two companies have been rumored to merge since 2014, when Sprint attempted to buy T-Mobile. Talks resumed again last year, before ending last November when T-Mobile and Sprint couldn’t find mutual ground. Earlier in April, though, The Wall Street Journal reported that the two companies were once again back at the negotiating table for the third time in four years, and if CNBC’s sources are correct, it seems that this time, the merger might finally be happening.
The difference this time is said to be a change of heart in Masayoshi Son, the CEO of SoftBank (which owns Sprint), with factors like the lower corporate tax rate, costs of 5G deployment, and increased competition from cable providers helping tip the scales toward a merger, although it’s still possible that things could fall apart again.
Of course, even if the two companies do agree to a merger, there’s still a good chance that it won’t go through. The US cellular market is notoriously short on competition with only four major carriers to choose from, and merging Sprint and T-Mobile together dramatically cuts that number down. We’ve been down this road before back in 2011, when AT&T attempted to buy T-Mobile, only to encounter fierce resistance from the Department of Justice and FCC, which ultimately blocked the sale.
That said, we’re in a very different political climate now then we were in 2011, with an FCC boss that seems content in letting major companies run rampant rather than regulate things, so if a deal does go through, anything could happen.