T-Mobile and Sprint are preparing to take the next step in merging their wireless companies, with the two brands reportedly planning to merge their customers and retail stores under a single T-Mobile banner this summer, via Fierce Wireless. In other words: the end of Sprint is near.
The immediate changes are largely surface-level: Sprint’s brand will be eliminated in favor of T-Mobile’s on things like storefronts and bills. T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert promised that existing Sprint customers will still be able to keep their current plans and won’t be forced to switch over to one of T-Mobile’s plans (at least, for now). New customers will presumably be directed to sign up for T-Mobile plans, instead of Sprint ones, once the changes take place, as part of the effort to consolidate the customer base.
There’s not an exact date for when the changeover will take place — just sometime later this summer. “With COVID-19, we moved it out into the mid-summer instead of the early summer, and this is when we will essentially be advertising one flagship postpaid T-Mobile brand as well as operating a unified fleet of retail. The retail piece is why we slowed down just a little bit,” Sievert said at an investor event earlier this week.
Sprint customers with compatible phones can already roam on T-Mobile’s networks when they don’t have Sprint coverage, but that’s a far cry from the eventual goal of turning the two networks into a single entity used by the combined customer base of the two formerly separate carriers. T-Mobile and Sprint have already said that they expect that transition to take about three years to complete.
We’re already starting to see some of the rough patches that may emerge as part of that process, too. The two brands have begun to combine their 5G networks, transitioning Sprint’s network and bandwidth over to T-Mobile’s network. That’s come at the expense of most of Sprint’s current 5G customers, as almost all of Sprint’s existing 5G phones can’t use the new T-Mobile network.