The expected merger between wireless carriers Sprint, Softbank and Clearwire just got one more step closer to reality with the FCC giving the go ahead approval. While it looked like Dish was going to swoop in and stir the pot a little, it now seems that these three companies will infact become one.
The history of this merger is actually rather interesting as it could have potentially been very different. Softbank’s offer of $21.6 billion was overwhelmingly accepted by Sprint’s shareholders last month, making the merger all but confirmed. In the meantime, Sprint’s acquisition of Clearwire was also approved by the FCC, putting Softbank in control of both companies. The carrier intends to use this added spectrum to increase 4G coverage in the US.
However, Dish was actually almost a major contender in this whole process. The company started out with interest in purchasing only Sprint. However, once Softbank offered Sprint a juicier deal, Dish shifted its focus to Clearwire. Dish was then ultimately outbid by Sprint for complete control over Clearwire, completely eliminating Dish from the equation. While it was unclear as to why DIsh was so interested to begin with, it seems that if the company is interested in acquiring cellular spectrum, they will have to look elsewhere.
Now that everything has been approved by the FCC, the merger is essentially finalized. While it will awhile before we see any major differences as a result of the acquisitions, it is clear that this will only benefit consumers has most of them will certainly not object to having another major carrier to choose from. It seems that most consumers are locked to either Verizon or AT&T simply because they are the ones who get the most coverage in obscure places. However, if Sprint’s network can gain the required momentum, we could see some major changes in that area.
Softbank now intends to use the three companies combined spectrum to make a larger presence in the US. It hopes to legitimately challenge Verizon and AT&T to become a big player in the US cellular market. It is unclear how much Sprint’s network will grow from this merger, but CEO Masayoshi Son has certainly had great success in Japan.