Since last week when the rumor hit that Sprint might be looking to place a bid on T-Mobile, we've been hearing all kinds of things about a possible merger between the two. While on one hand it looks like a good idea. I mean it's #3 and #4 carriers becoming one, to compete with AT&T and Verizon. Although they would probably still be #3 even combined. Just think about how much larger T-Mobile's LTE network is compared to Sprint's. Especially considering T-Mobile only started their LTE network this year, and they already have over 200 million people blanketed with LTE. But on the other hand, T-Mobile is massively disrupting the wireless industry with their Uncarrier approach, and we as customers no matter what carrier we are on, need this. Let me explain.
Before T-Mobile went through with their Uncarrier stuff this year, you would have never seen Verizon's Edge, AT&T's Next, or Sprint's One Up early upgrade programs. Even though they are created to make the carriers even more money. These programs all got started because of T-Mobile's JUMP. JUMP allows you to pay $10/month on top of your bill. Which isn't a lot, but it does certainly add up. But if you already purchase insurance from your carrier, you're basically getting JUMP for free as insurance costs between $7-12/month. So for $10/month you're getting full insurance on your phone, and the ability to upgrade your phone twice a year. Sounds good right? That's exactly why Sprint, AT&T and Verizon jumped in with their own versions of this plan. Although they seem good to the naked eye, because there's no down payment, and no monthly fee on top of the device fee. But if you do the math, you're actually paying twice as much for your phone by using their new early upgrade programs.
Then later on this year, T-Mobile announced that they are giving Simple Choice plan customers free international roaming in 100 countries. Now this is only EDGE data, but free unlimited international roaming data in 100 countries? That's crazy. Prior to that, you'd be paying about $15/mb on T-Mobile and similar on other carriers. Since then, you've started seeing AT&T sign roaming agreements with other countries. For example, they just recently signed an agreement with Rogers in Canada, and they are allowing LTE roaming. So T-Mobile is doing a good job at disrupting the industry. But here's the best, and to me the most important, part. T-Mobile's customer service.
T-Mobile's CEO, John Legere popped up on Twitter this year, and he's been a great follow. We've seen at T-Mobile press conferences how he'll bash his competitors, especially AT&T. But he goes even further on Twitter. In fact I've got a good example down below which he tweeted yesterday.
On the customer service side of things, Mr Legere will often times respond to you if you're having an issue. Of course, he can't respond to you if you don't tweet about it. Would be cool if he could read our minds though. He's often times had customers email him so he can look into the issues that he's having. Now, what other CEO is taking steps like that to make sure his customers are happy? I can't think of a single one.
So here's my theory on why Sprint wants to buy T-Mobile. They are noticing that T-Mobile is quickly closing the subscriber gap between the two carriers. T-Mobile has actually been adding as many customers as AT&T and Verizon in the past couple of quarters, while Sprint is either losing customers or barely getting any new sign ups. Sprint and Softbank are looking at the numbers, and are trying to stop the bleeding. But I'm not sure it's going to work. It's no doubt that Softbank is the one heading up this bid on T-Mobile, as they do have a ton of cash to throw around. But is it the best deal for customers? Probably not.
While I'd love to see Softbank fix up Sprint's network and make it a great network everywhere in the US, and not in just certain areas. I would really rather Sprint and T-Mobile not merge. Because that would give AT&T and Verizon another reason to go up on prices for their plans, and such. Then there's also the fact that DISH may be looking to bid on T-Mobile. Which means it's going to get interesting next year.
Do you want Sprint to merge with T-Mobile? Or would you rather the two stay separate?