T-Mobile and Sprint's coverage map after the merger approval will look like this


After a few unsuccessful merger tangos with Comcast and other ineligible bachelors, Sprint and T-Mobile are finally tying the knot for good, barring regulatory hurdles. The two smaller US carriers have agreed to the broad strokes, with the details still being ironed out, and a regulatory announcement likely to come before year's end.

Both Sprint and T-Mobile carry enough weight to result in a formidable alliance in terms of subscriber numbers, coverage and frequency ownership, rivaling the two big boys Verizon and AT&T.


TL;DR

  • Sprint will add big areas in Iowa, Wisconsin, Vermont, Nebraska and West Virginia to the New T-Mobile's coverage map;
  • The combined network licenses will make New T-Mobile the largest spectrum holder in the US;
  • The new T-Mobile will end up with ~30% market share, against 31% for AT&T, and 38% for Verizon, but 50%+ in prepaid;
  • Plan prices are unlikely to be increased.

Combined T-Mobile/Sprint coverage maps (it's still no Verizon)


When it comes to coverage, the two US juggernauts have a genuine advantage in rural areas, whereas Sprint and T-Mobile are only on par in cities or major roads. There are plenty of network overlap areas, too, so the merger is unlikely to create the best US carrier in terms of overall blanketing, that would still be Verizon. 

We've put the expected coverage map overlays from a few different sources below for your viewing pleasure, but it basically boils down to Sprint boosting T-Mobile's network in only a few areas like Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Vermont, and West Virginia, as you can see from the combined maps below.



The leading national spectrum holder


They say a network is as good as its potential, i.e., spectrum licenses, and T-Mobile is well positioned in the long-distance low-band spectrum with its $8 billion acquisition at the 600MHz level, while Sprint holds copious amounts in the short distance high-bands. Some of these will probably have to be divested for anti-monopoly purposes if a merger is to take place, but still, a combined network will hold a huge promise - if not an immediate one, then for future rollouts.

This is why research firm Mosaik which specializes in carrier coverage maps, databases, and analysis on the corporate level, has tried to plot what a combined T-Mobile-Sprint network coverage would look like, considering the band licenses each carrier holds, and the picture is pretty rosy, sorry, violet. The new T-Mobile will apparently take the "largest spectrum holder" reign over from AT&T, and in pretty lucrative band ranges at that.

Granted, all of these spectrum nuggets each one holds will take months and years to flesh out and show synergies for subscribers to hop from one T-Sprint tower to the next without a hitch throughout the US, but the potential for network development is certainly better than if these two are on their own. 


Best in prepaid? New T-Mobile customer base and merger economics


The new T-Mobile will have about 30% market share in the US, a tad below AT&T, while Verizon will remain a leader with 38%. For the retail prepaid market, however, New T-Mobile will hold more than 50% market share. This could be considered an oligopolistic setup by the FCC, and create regulatory backlash. Overall, however, the merger could also spark healthy competition and even lower prices in the end, thanks to the move over to 5G networks, according to analyst Joe Madden:


Furthermore, the merger would result in billions of cost savings for the combined company, and thousands of new jobs, according to the carriers. How much? Well, about $6 billion per year, mainly from operating expenses, and at least $2 billion of those are likely to come from the selling, general and administrative costs. 

In practice, this means there will be plenty of job losses, too, negating the hiring numbers that T-Mobile is touting, so the employees' situation after the merger is a bit murkier than presented.


What's in it for me?


Short answer - better network at prices that shouldn't budge much over the current plan rates. That's in theory, though, while the long answer is still being written by T-Mobile, Sprint, and all the regulators working on the merger case. 

We only hope that the cheaper plans, as well as the generous phone discounts, will stay after a merger, as the history has shown that the bigger they are, the harder they bargain.

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15 Comments

1. mikedemoda

Posts: 128; Member since: Mar 19, 2010

dang, the US still using so much prepaid lines... that looks more like a developing country

2. ZombieHunter

Posts: 266; Member since: Oct 13, 2013

Prepaid is smart. We don't like getting locked in and get a great deal to boot. Contracts and postpaid is for the poor and uneducated.

3. mikedemoda

Posts: 128; Member since: Mar 19, 2010

LMAO, prepaid is annoying as F maybe it's the US carriers that have a problem and doesn't adapt to what consumers want and need...

8. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2474; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

All carriers in the US now operate like a prepaid carrier in that they don’t offer contracts and you pay month to month. The way they keep you “under contract” is with device leases where you pay a certain price a month until the device is paid off. T-Mobile was the primary starter for this trend when years ago they got rid of yearly contracts with their “Uncarrier” movement and started attracting a lot of customers from AT&T and Verizon. The big two eventually started offering similar plans. You can still find contracts on some plans but those are few and far between. And like ZH pointed out it’s sometimes smarter to go prepaid, especially when you have a family and can pay for 4 lines for $100 instead of $160-180 a month. As far as individuals, it’s more even between prepaid and postpaid plans.

13. mikedemoda

Posts: 128; Member since: Mar 19, 2010

T-Mobile is no innovator... they simply applied in the US what European carriers have been doing for quite a few years already Here in Europe most people have contract, you get way better plans, you can switch whenever you want to and don't have to worry about running out of credit when you need it most

12. p51d007

Posts: 705; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

I use Straight Talk (at&t Sim) and have for years. I get the benefit of being on at&t's network, which is better in my geographic region, plus, EACH month the bill is the same. The TOTAL bill, not before this fee, this charge, this tax and on and on, plus I could SWITCH easily, any time I want.

15. p51d007

Posts: 705; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

I've been using Straight Talk for year, and unless something else came along better, I'm sticking with it. My rate has NOT changed in 6 year, my data allowance has gone UP to 10GB, which is perfect for me.

4. MartyK

Posts: 1043; Member since: Apr 11, 2012

"Plan prices are unlikely to be increased" Can we get this in a written contract?

5. djcody

Posts: 230; Member since: Apr 17, 2013

You know plan prices will go up to justify 5G upgrades. And easy up to 20%. I will be very shocked if not.

6. Rigmaster

Posts: 234; Member since: Jan 22, 2018

Legere will be keeping the VZW and AT&T CEOs awake at night if this happens. Ha.

7. baldilocks

Posts: 1542; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

And still no signal in a lot of places I go. That's why I will always stay with AT&T.

9. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Yep agree Still to many dead spots. Yeah I have a few with ATT but nothing like a friend has with T-Mobile.

10. Rocky1978

Posts: 41; Member since: Jul 09, 2014

That's funny, here in Texas I'm on T-Mobile and the others on AT&T are having the dead spots. On T-Mobile, I rarely encounter dead spots......and this is all before the merger happens. T-Mobile is prime to take over.......very soon.

11. p51d007

Posts: 705; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

So basically, we'll have LESS competition in the USA market. It will be "the big 3". The problem I've noticed with Sprint, is that unless you live in a larger city and only travel on major highways, you are pretty much with no coverage.

14. dollallama

Posts: 10; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

Almost heaven, West Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River

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