TracFone endorses the T-Mobile/Sprint merger, cites better 'rural areas' coverage

TracFone endorses the T-Mobile/Sprint merger, cites better 'rural areas' coverage
TracFone, America's largest virtual operator that piggybacks on all of the big guys' networks, is all for the Sprint merger with T-Mobile. It has sent a letter to the FCC to express its feelings, arguing that the wedding will increase their coverage in rural areas more efficiently, and result in three full-service competitors, rather than the current Verizon/AT&T duopoly there.

This is a stone in T-Mobile's garden which has been claiming improved coverage ever since its flamboyant CEO embarked on a price and services war with the big guys, but most coverage maps and tests tell the same tale regarding rural areas. The full text of TracFone's endorsement of the deal waxes poetic about synergies, economies of scale, and so on, but its the act itself that matters most. 

TracFone is owned by one of the world's richest people, America Movil owner Carlos Slim, and is an umbrella operator for a number of extremely popular prepaid brands in the US. It houses Straight Talk, Simple Mobile and Walmart Family Mobile - all prepaid juggernauts that collectively hold about 22 million customers in the US. Given that one of the reasons the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint is facing scrutiny by the FCC is that the deal may impact the number of virtual operators, the following TracFone statement is pretty important as an argument before the FCC:


The FCC has put the merger review on the backburner, waiting for more information to be submitted and reviewed, and the TracFone letter is one of those things that gives it a clearer picture whether to give the deal the green light. TracFone is not the first virtual operator in favor of the merger, while some subsidized rural networks are against it, so the FCC will have a lot of stuff to pour through until it makes up its mind on the merger.

source: FCC (PDF) via FierceWireless

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11 Comments

1. DarthJarJar

Posts: 28; Member since: Feb 01, 2018

Don’t they run off T-Mobiles network? Of course they'd approve of it.

3. liteon163

Posts: 12; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

A TracFone user can choose which SIM card to receive - AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon - so you are partially correct that TracFone runs on the T-Mobile network. However, TracFone has a business interest in seeing greater competition for rural customers. Their claim the merger advances those interests sounds reasonable. As an aside, my son initially asked for an AT&T SIM on TracFone. He was dissatisfied with their coverage in our typical travel area, so he swapped out for a Verizon SIM (his phone could handle GSM and CDMA) and kept his phone number. He's much more satisfied with Verizon.

10. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 951; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

Straight Talk resells service from all major carriers, not just T-Mobile. What's stranger to me is hearing anything about rural coverage with Sprint or T-Mobile since neither of them have any decent rural coverage (especially where I live). Even combined I'd still get 2 bars at best and less than 1Mbps on their "LTE". Completely unusable. Crap times 2 is still crap.

2. irossdrummer

Posts: 364; Member since: Jan 17, 2015

Wonder what carriers on the Sprint side gotta say like Boost or Virgin

4. liteon163

Posts: 12; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

Boost and Virgin are wholly owned by Sprint, so they're are completely on-board.

5. irossdrummer

Posts: 364; Member since: Jan 17, 2015

oh I didn't know that, I thought they just RAN on sprint, cool stuff!

6. cncrim

Posts: 1516; Member since: Aug 15, 2011

Merger will be great for any business, the only that will ALWAYS loose is customers.

7. baldilocks

Posts: 1412; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

Neither one is known for their rural coverage... 0x0 is still 0,.

9. Chris_ABN

Posts: 167; Member since: May 16, 2018

TMobile will have Nationwide coverage from the spectrum purchased in the 600 mhz auction it has already been deploying. TMobile also plans on using 600 mhz for 5g. So they'll have rural coverage, alot better than the BS they have now.

8. jsjammu

Posts: 169; Member since: Nov 13, 2014

It will definitely improve the coverage for the combined carrier no doubt. Also, it is inevitable that consumer prices will eventually rise and jobs will be lost because there will be just too many of the people doing the same thing and they'll have to consolidate.

11. sgtdisturbed47

Posts: 951; Member since: Feb 02, 2012

Just because they merge does not mean either will get better coverage. They are both weak in rural areas, so it's not going to improve or "double" the existing footprint that both companies share.

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