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T-Mobile says the U.S. market is not big enough for four major carriers

Posted: , by Alan F.

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T-Mobile says the U.S. market is not big enough for four major carriers
As of the second quarter, the U.S. had 321.7 million mobile subscribers and four major carriers. One of the four, T-Mobile, says that the market is too small to allow four large mobile operators to thrive. Meeting with shareholders, T-Mobile COO Jim Alling said that there could be consolidation in the future that reduces the number of major U.S. carriers to three. He says that such a move is possible now and is "likely in the long term". This almost took place last year when AT&T made a $39 billion bid for T-Mobile. Regulators balked at approving the deal and AT&T eventually rescinded the offer.

Two of the top four carriers in the states are currently involved in potential deals. Japan's Softbank is shelling out $20 billion for 70% of Sprint, a deal that gives the carrier a capital injection of $8 billion to use toward its LTE build out. Yesterday, Sprint asked the FCC to sign off on the deal. The other deal features Alling's own firm in a take-over of MetroPCS. The deal is one of migration, getting MetroPCS customers to migrate over to T-Mobile phones and its eventual 4G LTE pipeline.

"Is it possible that four major players could go down to three? I think that is possible, and likely in the longer term."-Jim Alling, COO, T-Mobile
Alling probably wouldn't make this comment unless he thought that T-Mobile would be a survivor. But right now, the smart money is betting that Softbank-Sprint will probably takeover T-Mobile down the road. Even Sprint CEO Dan Hesse believes that this will happen. And having three major carriers serving a large population is something that is actually being done already in China, the largest smartphone market in the world. There, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom handle more than 1 billion mobile subscribers.

T-Mobile sees an opportunity despite the lack of LTE service at the moment. CEO John Legere says that an aggressive roll out of LTE might be able to help T-Mobile grab market share at the expense of AT&T and Sprint. The former has 103 LTE markets and the latter just turned on its LTE signal in June. Verizon has 440 LTE markets at present, to lead the way.

source: Bloomberg via TMONews

37 Comments
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posted on 16 Nov 2012, 23:07 7

1. XPERIA-KNIGHT (Posts: 2384; Member since: 08 Aug 2012)


not sure if the number 3 is "good" here or not :(

posted on 18 Nov 2012, 19:28 1

29. metalpoet (unregistered)


well the problem is the americans love choice, the minute we go from the big four to the holy crap huge three......somebody will find a way to make it be the big four again. I love everything that t-mobile stands for as a carrier but the only thing keeping them in business is their incredibly affordable plans and hot spokeswoman lol! Verizon has the coverage, att has the exclusivity crap with phones, sprint has truly unlimited data, and tmobile is affordable. can you imagine if Verizon slashed the prices of their plans $20! Or if Sprint had faster data, or AT&T focused more and more on having better coverage and being cheaper than Verizon. the potential is limitless with what these carriers can do and they just dont do it because in the end they only care about how much money the execs are making, even if it means being homeless just to have the latest device on an extraordinarily expensive bill lol

posted on 20 Nov 2012, 16:37

34. miles16852 (Posts: 202; Member since: 20 Oct 2011)


beleive me, its not that silly girl keeping tmob afloat!

posted on 24 Nov 2012, 18:50

36. metalpoet (unregistered)


This is America lol! Attractive women influence every aspect of our lives, decisions, and culture! If t-mobile had some random dude then their sales would plummit! I actually knew a family that owned a t-mobile authorized reseller company that had 200 stores in the nation and he had record sales during the month off July 2012 when he announced that those who purchased a phone through them would be entered in for a chance to meet the t-mobile girl haha!

posted on 16 Nov 2012, 23:11 13

2. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5528; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Interesting how some claim that the U.S. market is not large enough to support 4 major carriers, yet there are more than 4 regional carriers who are doing just fine, thank you. In fact, T-Mo just acquired one of the regionals.

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 09:25 1

19. HäckeMáte (Posts: 168; Member since: 28 Feb 2012)


Sprint was not doing "just fine" and T-Mobile would not be expressing their concern if they were doing "just fine".

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 09:45 4

20. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5528; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Sprint and T-Mo aren't regional carriers, which was where the doing just fine comment was directed.

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 09:49

21. HäckeMáte (Posts: 168; Member since: 28 Feb 2012)


Wha?! They ARE regional carriers, or atleast struggling ones. North American region to be exact. H2O, simple mobile, Net10, and even Metro are not because they only cover small sections of the US (not enough to claim majority coverage).

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 10:29 8

22. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5528; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Now you are being pedantic. And a good day to you.

posted on 25 Nov 2012, 23:35

37. HäckeMáte (Posts: 168; Member since: 28 Feb 2012)


Thats one way to avoid a saying anything dumber. I bet you use that a lot. Cant debate over stuff you dont know about so just walk away.

posted on 16 Nov 2012, 23:12 5

3. ajac09 (Posts: 1337; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


Maybe Tmobile should take the lead and do some changes. Lower phone prices cheaper plans work on being a even better budget carrier.

posted on 18 Nov 2012, 19:32 1

30. metalpoet (unregistered)


i feel as if they are the budget carrier, if only they expanded their coverage even further then even i would switch, i have been with verizon and the only thing that ever keeps me with them is consistancy with coverage and never being in a dead zone. I live in southern utah and Verizon is the ONLY carrier that doesnt have a dead zone, tmobile barely even exists down here and att is a joke out here as well.

posted on 16 Nov 2012, 23:20 3

4. blackspot (Posts: 102; Member since: 14 Nov 2012)


Well, I hate to admit it but besides limited coverage, this is another reason why I was hesitant to make the switch to T-Mobile.

posted on 16 Nov 2012, 23:37 1

5. digitalw (Posts: 48; Member since: 20 Dec 2011)


This is cool... in Macedonia a very small european country with only 2 million population we have 3 companies: T-Mobile (former Macedonian National Telecom operator) aprox 45%, ONE (Slovenian telecom) 30% and VIP (Vodafone) 25%. All working with profits. The importand thing is that in Macedonia is overed with mountains and full coverage is hard to achive, you need a lot of cellular towers to be put on the hills. Prices per minute are from $0.064 to $0.14 / SMS =$0.08 or less.

posted on 16 Nov 2012, 23:52 6

6. Lawliet (Posts: 160; Member since: 02 Jul 2012)


Even Japan has 3 carriers (iirc)

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 00:15 5

7. Adithya7184 (Posts: 301; Member since: 05 Mar 2011)


i think india is only country in the world to have more than 7 carriers....vodafone, airtel, aircel, tata indicom, docomo, iDea, uninor, telenor and so on.....

posted on 18 Nov 2012, 13:22 2

26. JunitoNH (Posts: 834; Member since: 15 Feb 2012)


Yeah.......cause you guys have close to a quarter of the world's population, so no surprise there.

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 00:39 4

8. -box- (Posts: 3707; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)


I would guess/hope sprint fails and T-Mo takes its place and many of its subscribers. GSM carriers are traditionally stronger long-term, and have better long-term plans.

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 08:41 10

18. ggudino (Posts: 5; Member since: 25 Aug 2012)


You are a moron. Why would you hope that such a big company fail? Have you thought about what that could mean? 1000's of people will lose their jobs.

You are correct that GSM carriers traditionally are stronger but not here in the states, Verizon and Sprint have over 50% of US cell subscribers. Sprint will be more then okay now that they have some cash. By the way, Sprint's and Verizon's rollout of LTE (GSM technology) is leading a path towards their eventual migration to only GSM or until something better comes out.

posted on 18 Nov 2012, 19:35 1

31. metalpoet (unregistered)


i wish sprint and t-mobile would merge together, who cares if they have clashing frequency languages(cdma and gsm) they should just call it Sprint mobile

posted on 20 Nov 2012, 16:40

35. miles16852 (Posts: 202; Member since: 20 Oct 2011)


if you were hired to work for sprint, you would also be the first to be fired!

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 00:50 6

9. Stoli89 (Posts: 333; Member since: 28 Jun 2010)


Switzerland has THREE major carriers...and a population of ~8 Million. Sounds to me like T-mobile management has no idea what to do with the billions it got from AT&T ( due to the failed merger) and is once again looking to shop itself around for the next sutor.

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 02:49 11

10. tedkord (Posts: 4268; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Bulls**t. There's plenty of room for even more than 4. The issue is, we actually have two truly national carriers, and two that are barely above regional. Spend the money you got from ATT on building out your network, and upgrading to LTE.
If you want to be successful, you've got to offer something compelling. Coverage and value.

Whiners. I really hope Google jumps into the carrier business and schools them all.

posted on 18 Nov 2012, 19:42 1

32. metalpoet (unregistered)


If the T-Mobile execs were smart about the money they make and stopped focusing so much on "having the fastest 4G around" and instead focused on expending their coverage which would in turn bring new customers and weaken the other carriers than they wouldnt have to worry so much and pretty much begging to be bought out by one of the larger 3 carriers. I dont want a big four, i wish they had another POST PAID CARRIER to give the big four some serious competition. US Cellular is a great company but their only regional, we need a national carrier that isnt just pre paid. I hate pre paid, its going to put alot of POST PAID sales people out of a job and its essentially no profit for the carriers.

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 05:50 8

11. ElektronicGeek91 (Posts: 105; Member since: 26 Sep 2012)


T-Mobile sounds like they want to get bought out.

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 06:30 6

12. lzsbleach (Posts: 155; Member since: 20 May 2012)


Why dont Google just buy T-mobile and call it a day.

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 06:36 1

13. papss (unregistered)


Hears a great idea.. Let a foreign company buy TMo and and not let another US company... Great idea.

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 07:36 10

16. Berzerk000 (Posts: 3868; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)


T-Mobile isn't a U.S. company. It's a subsidiary of Deutsche Telecom, which is a German company.

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 06:45 1

14. smallworld (Posts: 420; Member since: 13 Jul 2012)


"China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom" Chinese originality.

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 07:34 3

15. ThePro (Posts: 26; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)


Argentina has 3 (Personal (Comparable to AT&T), Movistar (Comparable to Sprint, great support, good prices, but crappy data) & Claro (T-Mobile, great data, but is just crap)) with a 4th state-owned coming (Because of the pseudo-communist state our president wants to have)

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 08:10

17. myclevername (Posts: 93; Member since: 07 Jun 2010)


Numbers from AT&T's last quarterly profit report. Yeah, there are just too many companies in the U.S. and clearly, they aren't doing very well. At&T and Verizon need more business and more profits. T-Mobile is an annoying gnat that needs to go away.

$0.63 diluted EPS compared to $0.61 diluted EPS in the third quarter of 2011; $0.62 compared to $0.59 when adjusted for sale of Advertising Solutions, up more than 5 percent year over year
EPS up 6 percent year to date; up more than 8 percent year to date when adjusted for Advertising Solutions
Record cash from operations of $11.5 billion and record free cash flow of $6.5 billion in third quarter; full-year free cash flow guidance increases $2 billion to $18 billion or higher
$3.8 billion in stock buybacks in the third quarter; 101 million shares repurchased

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 13:17 1

23. Jyakotu (Posts: 814; Member since: 12 Dec 2008)


This really sounds like T-Mobile USA is really just ready to give up in the US market. I think there's plenty of room for 4 national carriers. Most of the other carriers in the US are mainly prepaid MVNOs and regional carriers.

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 16:34 1

24. roscuthiii (Posts: 1785; Member since: 18 Jul 2010)


Looks to me like Alling smells a pay day in certain bonuses, benefits, stock options, etc. from Deutsche Telekom if he can unload T-Mo off on another company.

Had something similar happen when the company I work at was bought out and the new parent company wanted the HQ moved to a new city. Our CEO got a super bonus for moving the company by a certain date well ahead of the actual migration deadline, even though the migration was frantic, mismanaged, & poorly executed causing major disruption to what was left of the business. He didn't care... he made his millions.

posted on 17 Nov 2012, 19:56 1

25. davidpoitier (Posts: 6; Member since: 07 Feb 2012)


Basically at some point Sprint and T-Mobile will merge and they will still be smaller than At&t and Verizon... #MarkMyWords

posted on 18 Nov 2012, 13:29

27. SprinT4You (Posts: 6; Member since: 11 May 2010)


It does sound like T-Mobile is suggesting that it may go away. I don't know why I believe this. I can say that if T-Mo did away with 2G Voice and upgraded to 3G and IMPROVED in-building coverage they would have better success, happier customers and their subscriber numbers would go up. Our regulators and political partisanship favored AT&T and Verizon for many years - because of these actions: two behemoths were born. These two duopolys have deep pockets and have the cash to build top notch networks. Making it difficult for carriers to grow and decrease competition. (If they spend the money like Verizon has) so - yes these two duopolys have an advantage and a whopping 50 million more customers and growing.

Don't give up just yet - T-Mobile!!! Next year you should be able to sell the Iphone, Ipad and Ipad mini. Continue with your 4G buildout. I have heard about the good reviews. When all is said and done - Tmobile, Clearwire and Sprint will have the breathing room to grow and steal customers from Big Red and Ma Bell after they are done with their 4G buildouts.

posted on 18 Nov 2012, 17:32 1

28. Mr.Mr.Upgrade (Posts: 425; Member since: 30 Aug 2011)


Tmobile what a joke lol

posted on 19 Nov 2012, 22:11

33. OccupyAJob (Posts: 6; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)


Sounds like grade A whine.

Here's a question, if any of these companies were to hit financial trouble would the government have to bail them out? The answer is, "yes." It means they are all too big already. Determine the max number of subscribers we're willing to accept lost if a telecom goes bankrupt and regulate telecomm maximum size on that number.

Somehow, I think we will see room for more than a dozen telecoms actually competing after that.

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