As someone who has been following the cell phone industry for a few years exclusively now. I’ve learned a lot about the carriers and even the manufacturers that most people don’t even know about. It’s well known that both Sprint and T-Mobile have been fighting for Verizon and AT&T’s leftovers for a couple of years now. In fact, T-Mobile looking to purchase some of the 700Mhz spectrum from Verizon is a prime example of that. Also, up until 2013, both carriers had been losing customers like crazy. However when T-Mobile hired John Legere as their new CEO, things started to change and they changed quickly. The last few quarters of 2013, T-Mobile has been adding a ton of new subscribers.
Let’s look at the numbers. Q2 of this year, T-Mobile added 1.1 million new customers, and in Q3 they added another million more customers. But what about Sprint? In Q2, Sprint lost about 520,000 customers. And in Q3 they lost about 95,000 customers. So it’s definitely not looking good for Sprint, although I think Softbank has some plans about turning these numbers around. And we’ll talk about those a bit later. At the rate that these two Carriers are going, Sprint is going to be #4 and T-Mobile #3 real soon. And I think that’s what scares Sprint and Softbank. And a big reason why they want to purchase T-Mobile.
However, given what T-Mobile has accomplished in the past year, it should be T-Mobile buying Sprint instead of Sprint buying T-Mobile. T-Mobile is the one that’s building out their LTE network very quickly. Not to mention they’ve got HSPA+ to fall back on, if something happens to LTE, and in most areas their HSPA+ 42mbps network is almost as fast as most LTE connections. So why do I think Sprint shouldn’t be the one buying T-Mobile? Well it starts at the top. Sure Dan Hesse has done a great job keeping the bleeding down for Sprint, but given their past mistakes, they are in no position to buy another carrier. Want to know why? Nextel. WiMax. Clearwire. Sure Sprint has made some good decisions and some bad ones. But their bad decisions seem to still be effecting them as I speak…or write.
As far as track records go, T-Mobile hasn’t had the best track record either. I believe they only have coverage for about 60% of the US. Which is pretty poor. And some of those areas are still seeing EDGE. Heck, in my house my Moto X can go from LTE, to HSPA+, to EDGE within a minute. However, Sprint may have better coverage in more areas, but that doesn’t mean their network is as fast in all those areas and can handle more devices. Because quite frankly, I haven’t seen “good” speeds from Sprint in a long time. The last time I got a good speed test from Sprint was before 4G LTE was a thing. Back with the HTC EVO 4G, when Sprint was all in with WiMax.
The only way, I could see Sprint and a T-Mobile merger working, is if Masyoshi Son brings John Legere and his staff over from T-Mobile. And gets rid of Dan Hesse. It’s not because I’m a Legere fan of his bashing his competitors. But who else is shaking up the wireless industry right now? These carriers are so set in their ways, that it makes it difficult for consumers to not pay hundreds a month for a phone bill, and hundreds more for a new phone. John Legere has really turned around T-Mobile. Before he arrived, I thought T-Mobile would be gone within 5-10 years. Now, I think within 5-10 years they may be big enough to truly compete with AT&T and Verizon. Of course they need more coverage, but that’s not impossible Especially if that deal with Verizon for the 700Mhz spectrum goes through. That would mean 150 million more people will have T-Mobile coverage.
Honestly, I’m not sure what’s going to happen here. I really hope that the merger doesn’t go through. As I’m really pulling for both of these carriers to get their networks together. So we can have 4 strong networks in the US, instead of just 2 strong ones, and 2 not-so-strong networks. As a consumer we love competition, especially when it drives down prices. But at this point, it’s not looking good for T-Mobile users.