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FCC Chairman Wheeler pours cold water on possible Sprint acquisition of T-Mobile

Posted: , by Alan F.

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FCC Chairman Wheeler pours cold water on possible Sprint acquisition of T-Mobile
For the second time in a week, a U.S. regulator poured cold water on SoftBank's plan to have its Sprint subsidiary purchase T-Mobile. Last week, it was the DOJ that was "skeptical" about a deal that would combine the nation's third and fourth largest carriers. On Monday, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler told both SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son and Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, that he too was skeptical about combining Sprint and T-Mobile.

Wheeler said that he thinks the odds are long that any two of the top four U.S. carriers could get regulatory approval to combine. He did promise to keep an open mind. SoftBank and Sprint have been trying to convince regulators that U.S. consumers are being hurt by the strong Verizon-AT&T duopoly, and that only a merged Sprint-T-Mobile could compete with the pair. In Tokyo, a person close to SoftBank said, "I'm not unduly surprised by the FCC chairman's skepticism. I feel it's a rather typical reaction."

Considering that 67% of T-Mobile is owned by German telecommunications firm Deutsche Telekom, the company that buys that block will own the mobile operator which has become the darling of the industry. With its strong pro-consumer innovations led by outspoken CEO John Legere, there are many who feel that U.S. regulators want to keep T-Mobile independent so that it can continue to change the face of the business in the states.

With two regulatory agencies in the U.S. not favorable to a Sprint purchase of T-Mobile, the next move will be Son's. He could decide to go ahead with a bid, but he has already stated that SoftBank and Sprint can not afford to pay a big break-up fee if it pulls out of a deal. With that in mind, it would make more sense for SoftBank to try to let this go for now, and wait for a more favorable environment. In the meantime, banks have financing at the ready, waiting to see if Son pulls the trigger.

source: Reuters

18 Comments
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posted on 04 Feb 2014, 00:47 3

1. Doakie (Posts: 1326; Member since: 06 May 2009)


Great news! Best news since the AT&T $160 10GB plan.

posted on 04 Feb 2014, 00:59 2

2. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5954; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


SoftBank needs to get a clue - a Sprint acquisition of T-Mo ain't gonna happen. Time to focus on executing on the plan to invest in Sprint's infrastructure.

posted on 05 Feb 2014, 04:08

18. reckless562 (Posts: 1011; Member since: 09 Sep 2013)


damn thats expensive. could burn through 10 gigs in 10 hours or less. hmm thats like 5 1080p movies @ 2 gigs average file size. no more data left for the month...... ahhh..... i love being UNLIMITED!!!! Thank you Sprint!!

posted on 04 Feb 2014, 01:50 2

3. GeekMovement (Posts: 1521; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)


Dude I totally want to join the AT&T's 4-line $160/month 10GB plan! It's just we're stuck on contract with Sprint so I think we're moving to T-Mobile first and see how that goes.

posted on 04 Feb 2014, 17:58

14. QWIKSTRIKE (Posts: 914; Member since: 09 Mar 2010)


That plan will fail once VOIP is put into place. Ptices for you will then sky rocket.

posted on 04 Feb 2014, 21:44 1

15. JoeDirt (Posts: 11; Member since: 19 Oct 2013)


You all do realize that AT&T is forcing you to either provide your own equipment or pay off each phone over the course of 2 years to get this plan? Let's do some math... Four Galaxy S4s retail for around $700 each. Four payments over 24 months equates to an additional $116 per month! Now you're at $276 a month for the entire plan. This is just good marketing to get you in the door. Read the fine print and you'll agree. Oh, and you want to leave AT&T early with this plan? You'll have to pay off the remaining balance on each phone. It's a two year contract disguised.

posted on 04 Feb 2014, 21:50

16. GeekMovement (Posts: 1521; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)


Didn't see that it was a no contract plan ): +1 thought that we could buy phones on contract prices lol nvm. Thanks for pointing that out. It's going to be T-Mobile for me.

posted on 04 Feb 2014, 10:09

11. corporateJP (Posts: 1837; Member since: 28 Nov 2009)


If Softbank and Sprint think consumers are hurt by the Verizon-AT&T duopoly, and have consumers best-interest at heart, they need to step away from this idea of a deal then.

As said, they should invest in their own infrastructure, as it is horrible at best right now.

I'd take Charlie and Dish any day, worst case scenario, over Sprint.

If DT wants out that bad, especially with T-Mobile gaining traction like it is, then somebody more "local" needs to step up and bring ownership home. Warren Buffet, where are you now when we need you?

posted on 05 Feb 2014, 04:06

17. reckless562 (Posts: 1011; Member since: 09 Sep 2013)


damn thats expensive......

posted on 04 Feb 2014, 02:15 1

4. darkvadervip (Posts: 343; Member since: 08 Dec 2010)


So someone explain why sprint was against AT&T buying tmobile but it's cool for them to buy tmobile. If AT&T couldn't buy them no other major network shouldn't.

posted on 04 Feb 2014, 03:33 2

5. a_merryman (Posts: 718; Member since: 14 Dec 2011)


Because if Sprint and T-Mo shack up they are still the smallest national carrier of the 3 that would remain. And if AT&T would've been allowed to buy T-Mo it would have had around 150 million subscribers, or about half of the population of America. And with VZW having another 110 million it the 2 could dictate the market and outbid Sprint and smaller carriers for any new spectrum. As well as cost savings they would get from acquiring handsets, and smaller workforce/towers for the amount of people served.

TL;DR: The Sprint buyout creates a real competitor to the duopoly, while the AT&T buyout stifles competition and cements the duopoly and the wireless status quo in this country.

posted on 04 Feb 2014, 04:44

8. wiiandds (Posts: 61; Member since: 15 Mar 2013)


completely agree. not many people are willing to say this but T-mobile is copycat. all of the big changes that they have made were already done by Ting, which runs off of sprint's towers. i think they should merge so sprint can get GSM network to compete againts AT&T.

posted on 04 Feb 2014, 10:17

12. corporateJP (Posts: 1837; Member since: 28 Nov 2009)


While the idea of AT&T buying T-Mobile had me shutter, and all of you have solid points with a Sprint acquisition, T-Mobile needs to stay separate.

Sprint has horrible history and an awful present. Son is no better as long as he's still letting Hesse ride the horse and guide the stagecoach. Hesse is definitely better than any of his predecessors, however, he is still living in his own little world. Any other CEO of any other company that has made the level of mistakes that he has would have been asked to step down, but the board at Sprint and the shareholders seem clueless.

posted on 04 Feb 2014, 14:36 1

13. a_merryman (Posts: 718; Member since: 14 Dec 2011)


What mistakes has Hesse made? He wasn't around for the Nextel purchase, the iPhone deal is the same as every other carriers (as long as they sell enough iPhones they dont owe any money, and they have been selling enough), the clearwire partnership was announced before he became CEO....and at the time it wasn't that bad of an idea so long as the other companies involved had helped funded clearwire's buildout (google, comcast, etc). The lightsquared deal was made by him to get out of the crappy arrangement that the clearwire deal had become, but no money ever traded hands before it was called off. And he is the one who is implementing Network Vision which is a complete rebuild of their network with all new equipment and fiber backhaul installed at every single one of their towers. And I have definitely noticed an improvement from it in my area and driving down to south carolina, could stream spotify the whole way. Network Vision 1.0 will be done by the end of this year, in only 2 years they will have completely replaced every single piece of their network....that is unbelievably fast. The only reason it is taking as long as it is, is because of the backhaul providers dragging their feet.

But as I said below, I don't want Sprint to buy T-Mo. Buy up US Cellular and C-Spire and Ntelos and whatever other regionals there are left (that AT&T and VZW haven't bought up already).

posted on 04 Feb 2014, 03:37 1

6. a_merryman (Posts: 718; Member since: 14 Dec 2011)


I hope Softbank gives up on trying to buy T-Mobile, I would prefer Sprint buy up the smaller regional carriers. It would extend their native coverage, they would get more spectrum (obviously not as much...but Sprint isn't hurting for Spectrum except for lowband), they would gain more customers still, and it would keep at least 4 national carriers.

In all honesty I think both VZW and AT&T should be broken up, just like how AT&T has been broken up before, that would ensure real competition and even footing in the wireless space of the country. And also for the FCC to FORCE Dish to build out a network with the spectrum they have been hoarding or to take it back.

posted on 04 Feb 2014, 04:34

7. andynaija (Posts: 485; Member since: 08 Sep 2012)


I'm sure it has been said before and will be said again, Sprint NEEDS to put their focus and money into BETTERING THEIR OWN NETWORK and situations, before they can start to think about purchasing others.

posted on 04 Feb 2014, 07:34

9. ajac09 (Posts: 1367; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


which they wont. They think now that they are owned by someone else they can flex that muscle by buying companies and building new networks like spark while ignoring the crumbling 3g network

posted on 04 Feb 2014, 09:35 1

10. lsutigers (Posts: 772; Member since: 08 Mar 2009)


That is precisely what they are doing with Network Vision.

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