Iliad and Softbank Still Looking to Pick Up T-Mobile USA

August 6, 2014 - Written By Alexander Maxham

This just keeps getting better and better, right? Last night we heard that Sprint was dropping their bid for T-Mobile USA. But it looks like T-Mobile isn’t out of the deal just yet. As reports are surfacing from The Wall Street Journal today that Sprint’s parent company – that’d be Softbank – is still looking to pick up T-Mobile. With yesterdays news of Sprint dropping out of buying T-Mobile, the stock market is taking a hit, as T-Mobile’s stock is down 9% so far today, although Sprint’s has hit a 17% drop since yesterday.

According to a source close to Masayoshi Son, it appears he’s waiting for the regulatory climate to improve, so that he can pick up T-Mobile USA. At this point, it’s very unlikely for the FCC and DOJ to approve a Sprint buyout of T-Mobile USA. But that could change in the near future. Even Sprint’s new CEO, Marcelo Claure, stated that consolidation is in their long-term plans, but short-term they are looking to grow.

So what about Iliad? Well the bid is still there, and they are working with DISH and a few other cable/satellite providers here in the US to sweeten the deal. Most likely it’ll be DISH that bites, as they already have quite a bit of spectrum and have been looking to get into the wireless game for a few years now. Someone familiar with the situation at Iliad told the Journal that the deal “looks better than it did yesterday.” Especially with Sprint’s bid collapsing. Additionally, “The offer is still there, and it is good,” the person familiar with Iliad told WSJ. 

Sprint still has plenty of issues right now, and it all goes back to that merger of Nextel and Sprint all those years ago. Just recently have they been able to actually get rid of the iDEN network and use that 800MHz spectrum for data, which is part of Sprint Spark and they are working to roll that out nationwide. But with Sprint’s bad reputation, a rebrand is probably in order – perhaps to Softbank USA? Meanwhile, T-Mobile has been making huge strides on their network. According to results from Ookla’s Speedtest app, they have – on average – the fastest LTE network. They’ve also added over 1 million new subscribers in the last 5 quarters. Which is a huge turnaround from the losing 1 million before that. At this rate, T-Mobile will overtake Sprint as number three in the US in a couple of quarters, probably by the end of Q4 of this year.

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens here. But we now have two carriers that are interested in T-Mobile. Iliad is seriously looking to make their deal better, and Softbank is just trying to wait it out.