back to article T-Mobile US exec mulls merger with rival Sprint

The chief finance officer of US wireless carrier T-Mobile says further consolidation in the US mobile industry is inevitable and that a merger with Sprint would make a lot of sense. "It's the ultimate logical combination," T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter told Reuters at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York City on …

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Bronze badge

clearwire not a competitor

clearwire was never really a competitor to sprint.........Sprint's initial 4G Wimax tech used Clearwire stuff.

Can't help but wonder if T-mobile and Sprint were to merge if the result would be as disastrous as the Sprint+Nextel merger - given that Sprint and T-mobile use incompatible wireless tech.

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Re: clearwire not a competitor

The AT&T TMo merger was killed because AT&T was already so large.

Sprint & TMo's 3G tech were not compatible but didn't Sprint drop Wimax for LTE? Last I check TMo's "4G" was HSPA+ which is really more of a 3.5gen tech. Obviously, I haven't kept up with Sprint nor TMo's tech, since we've centralized to a single carrier at work now, but a merger between them for subscriber base size could be good for competition down the line.

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Silver badge

Re: clearwire not a competitor

For voice and some data they do, but both are deploying lte networks, albeit on different bands. Volte (or even adapting tmos wifi calling to use lte) and lteA would negate a large section of problems. Tmo is shunting its gsm\hspa etc to one band leaving all its aws for lte. Sprint is deploying lte in 3 bands and handsets are already selling with quadband lte (the note 3 for example on tmo and at&t) so whilst the short term would be a bodge, they could do it without huge headaches and medium to long term it is a huge win. Lots of potential there. More and more devices will be lte, carriers for cmda \ gsm etc can be removed, moved or reduced to make more room for lte and at the end of the day they can offer free phone swaps. IIRC the biggest issue with nextel was regulatory, allowing time to shut down the network, both carriers are already shutting down or minimizing anything non lte.

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Silver badge

Re: clearwire not a competitor

T-Mo has been transitionoing from HSPA+ to LTE for the last year or two. HSPA bought it some time and kept it competitive. Plus the fallout of the failed AT&T merger means T-Mobile has some access to AT&T equipment. In simple terms, T-Mobile's LTE concentrates on Band IV, AT&T's on Band XVII. Most LTE Phones sold in the US focus on those bands as well as Bands I and/or VII (which are common bands abroad). Unfortunately, US phones can't use Band III (the de facto common global band) because it's an active military frequency.

The current issue with Sprint is that, not only do they still use CDMA for voice comms and as a fallback (VoLTE is not ready yet), but their LTE bands are different (Sprint uses Bands XXV, XXVI, and thanks to Clearwire, XLI, I think) and not on more typical bands. Meaning Sprint LTE phones run the risk of not supporting the AT&T/T-Mobile bands or dropping support for international LTE bands like I and VII.

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Re: clearwire not a competitor

Right now there isn't overlap (not least because tmo saves money by buying the at&t sku's for lte phones) but technically it's very possible. The note 3 supports up to 6 bands and the new rf360 chip from qualcomm supports over 40 bands. The reality is sprint would need to add band IV support, at&t and tmo already ship 4 band lte phones so it's no big issue. TDD & FDD side by side isn't an issue (although apparently there seems to be an issue with sprint choosing svlte at the expense of multiband lte?) nor is 4 or mre lte bands.

Volte should be a non issue, not only would it not cost them much spectrum to keep a single gsm and cdma voice carrier for legacy support, newer phones can use an adaptation of tmos wifi calling directed over lte.

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Re: clearwire not a competitor

Even hex-band LTE phones have limits. There have been hex-band phones for some time (The S4, for example). US-tuned phones used by AT&T and T-Mobile use the same set of six: I, II, IV, V, VII, & XVII. Bands above XXX (like the Clearwire band, XLI) are TDD and not as well supported, especially in international applications.

I will admit the RF360 and others like it could moot the point if it really can deliver on being able to tune to ANY LTE frequency, but devices using it probably won't show up for a number of months yet (It was only announed this February). Plus note it says *40* bands, yet the Clearwire band is 4*1*, so support may still not be a given yet. Finally, consider that we'll probably be transitioning from LTE to LTE Advanced within the next few years, which will require phone refits yet again for the ability to handle wider, more variable frequency bands.

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Re: clearwire not a competitor

I think 41 will be supported but there are a bunch of other bands that won't and the 41 bands includes some cheeky maths counting none lte bands also :) The biggest potential issue comes from a combination of switching to cmos pa's from gaas pa's and a tend to metal phone shells. Couple that with volte using lte which isn't generally as good with negligible signal quality and you have a chance for seriously reduced coverage including voice.

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Silver badge

I would be happy to see this. It is the only large merger over here that makes any sense in this market, at least in the context of improving competition. Sprint with it's network vision project will have the capacity, tmo has some customers and some spectrum to add into the mix. Between the two of them they could become a solid contender. Sadly there would likely be some short term layoffs but I would expect the headcount to be made up relatively quickly by increased subscriber levels. It would take a few years to merge the networks but it would make sense, not only could they cherry pick which sites to keep the reduced opex would allow them to expand into other markets. Sprints NV network would be able to integrate tmos spectrum and with the future being lte all the way the cdma \ gsm issue would disappear over time.

Sprint has 800MHz spectrum, although not much, which would be enough to help with propagation in difficult geography and building penetration and swathes of higher frequency spectrum to deliver a hellishly fast network using LTE-A.

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Anonymous Coward

Putting two piles of shit together just makes a bigger pile

Those are two companies that don't have the brains nor brawn to compete in the US market. They are willing to do everything except invest in a network.

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Re: Putting two piles of shit together just makes a bigger pile

I beg your pardon but both of them HAVE been investing in infrastructure. That's why they both have LTE bands. Thing is, infrastructure is a high barrier of entry in a market like utilities, so incumbency and customer base tends to produce a feedback loop among the leaders of those kinds of markets. They tend towards cannibalism and natural monopolies, especially when an important commodity of the business is inherently limited (in this case, spectrum). IOW, the most cost-effective way to get more infrastructure is to get it from someone else.

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Re: Putting two piles of shit together just makes a bigger pile

Sure so they aren't investing in their network.

Tmo, pretty well advanced into a 4x2 mimo lte rollout, $4bn spent so far and nmost markets will have at least a 10x10 LTE carrier and some will have a 20x20.

Sprint, about 2/3rds of the way through a rollout of a completely new network. They are literally rebuilding everything mast side of the airlink. Laying in 1gbps fiber (initially only 2-300mbps commit with an option to increase to 1gbps within 30days) and microwave where more sensible. They are using LTE on 3 bands including potentially multiple 20x20MHz carriers in their 200MHz of 2500\2600MHz spectrum. They will have voice on 800 and 1900. They decided to keep virtually all the clearwire sites and bring them up to their network vision spec and are actively looking to infill gaps. They will also be able to switch to lteA with a minor software update which the big two cannot (they need hardware upgrades which takes permits & time).

Seriously, you pick two carriers that are right in the middle of doing things even AT&T and Verizon are doing and claim they aren't investing in their networks? Given the market is practically a duopoly I think the two smaller guys are putting up a hell of a fight. Verizon may have been first and have the best coverage and at&t may now have a fair amount of spectrum but theres a bigger picture involved.

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