Sprint, the nation's fourth largest carrier, has been looking for ways to get out of debt. One way was to merge with T-Mobile, which Sprint's new owner, SoftBank, tried a few years ago, only for regulators to tell them the deal would not be approved. Now, with a new administration in office, Sprint and SoftBank are looking to cut a deal with T-Mobile, even though it may not be a good idea for either side at this point. Sprint is also talking with cable companies like Charter and Comcast, to either cut a deal or sell the company to one of the larger cable companies in the US. Both of these cable companies have announced that they would launch a MVNO service this year – Comcast's is already live, but exclusive to its customers for now. So both companies are definitely interested in wireless.
Now if this deal were to happen, it would give a serious boost to Sprint. After all, both Charter and Comcast have deep pockets. But they also have a large customer-base. And putting Sprint in its pocket would mean it could bundle wireless with internet, TV and even home phone. Something that AT&T is doing now after its purchase of DIRECTV. But, that could be a bit too late for Sprint. You see, Sprint has a huge amount of debt, about $37 billion, with $9 billion of that coming due in the next couple of years. Meaning that Sprint needs to cut costs but also find a way to bring in more cash so it can take care of that debt. And that's likely something that is scaring potential buyers away. As a potential buyer would need to handle all of that debt.
Sprint is in a good position for the future, as far as spectrum goes. As it holds the holy grail of spectrum for 5G, which many carriers (including Sprint) are already working on. But its debt is what is really holding it back. Now if Comcast or Charter did come in, and either purchase part of the company, or the entire company from SoftBank, it would still put them in a good position. Both companies have a large buildout of fiber across the US which is going to be great for building out 5G in the next few years. It also means that it could expand coverage from what Sprint already has, by using its existing WiFi Hotspots, something that Comcast is already doing with its Xfinity Mobile service which runs on the Verizon network.
Comcast or Charter (or even another cable company) would be a perfect fit for Sprint, even if they don't buy out SoftBank's stake in the company (which is now over 80%). But the tough thing here for Sprint's CEO and Chairman, Marcelo Claure and Masayoshi Son, respectively, is selling Sprint to another company. While both cable companies have expressed vast interest in wireless – so has Dish Network and it has been picking up spectrum at auctions for the past few years – it doesn't necessarily mean this would be a done deal. The better deal is still with T-Mobile, as that would give Sprint a big boost in customers and revenue, to better compete with Verizon and AT&T. But with T-Mobile's recent growth, it doesn't make much sense for Sprint to add even more debt to purchase the Un-Carrier, nor does it make much sense for T-Mobile to buy a carrier with that much debt. If Sprint wants to make this work, they'll have to hurry up and get something going, since a deal would take at least 9 months to be approved by regulators anyways.