T-Mobile is discreetly pushing smaller wireless carriers in the United States to support its proposed merger with Sprint, Reuters reports, citing industry insiders. The Bellevue, Washington-based telecom giant has been sending emails with suggestions of how its virtual network partners could voice their public support for the deal, including regulatory filings and op-eds. Not all companies that received such communication view it as T-Mobile applying pressure on them to support the deal that would reduce the number of major wireless competitors in the country from four to three, with Consumer Cellular CEO John Marick confirming he's not opposed to the idea of publicly supporting the consolidation but has yet to decide on how to proceed.
Still, some are clearly concerned what any potential unwillingness to support the tie-up could mean for their future relations with T-Mobile, regardless of whether the mobile service provider is allowed to absorb Sprint as part of a $26.5 billion all-stock deal or not, with at least one such partner disclosing the company's latest communication under provision of complete anonymity. The email that's now being circulated among T-Mobile's partners also includes talking points that CEO John Legere already raised in recent months, including the argument that the merger would create additional competition in the 5G space.
It's presently unclear whether all of T-Mobile's MVNO partners received the same communication, though that's now widely assumed to be the case. The federal regulators are still vague in regards to the merger proposal and have so far signaled they're willing to at least review it and aren't fundamentally opposed to big-business consolidations like the former Obama administration was. Opponents of the deal are arguing the merger would hurt the poorest Americans by eliminating any remnants of competition in the prepaid segment and have called for divestments to be made before the deal is approved. The FCC is still in the process of accepting public comments on the proposal, with T-Mobile and Sprint hoping their consolidation will be greenlit in the first half of 2019.