Since word leaked out last month that Sprint was considering a bid for T-Mobile, the latter's shares have risen 19% while Sprint's shares rose 7% during the same time period. Keep in mind that both Sprint and T-Mobile are actually owned by larger companies. Japan's SoftBank purchased 78% of Sprint last year in a deal that exceeded $20 billion. The majority of T-Mobile is owned by German telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom.
AT&T, back in 2011, offered $39 billion for T-Mobile, but later gave up the bid after failing to receive approval from the Justice Department. T-Mobile received $3 billion and spectrum from AT&T as a break-up fee, and this was the genesis of T-Mobile's turn around that saw it add more than 4 million pre-paid subscribers last year.
Losing its independence would be a sad way to end the T-Mobile story. The carrier has become the most innovative in the industry, led by a CEO, John Legere, who puts consumers first. According to a source who has inside knowledge of events, both SoftBank and Deutsche Telekom decided months ago to put Sprint and T-Mobile together, with both considering a deal the best chance they have to compete against Verizon and AT&T. What is holding things up is the decision that has to be made as to the best way to combine the two.
What many U.S. consumers fear is that by merging with Sprint, T-Mobile will lose its identity, and the period of innovation that saw the mobile operator make some lasting changes to the industry, will come to an end.