The Latest on Sprint-T-Mobile deal (all times local):
Sprint and T-Mobile are talking up their $26.5 billion combination as great for high-speed wireless investments, rural service and U.S. competitiveness. But there are reasons to doubt the deal would do much on any of those fronts.
While a combined company might be able to offer a next-generation “5G” network more quickly and broadly, there are still a lot of unknowns. And the technology won’t be coming nationwide until at least 2020.
The companies also haven’t offered many details on their rural promises. Rural areas are not typically big money makers, and some analysts believe this might be more an attempt to please regulators.
The deal isn’t expected to finalize until the first half of 2019. Before that happens, the companies need regulatory approval. MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett puts the odds at 50/50.
Consumer advocacy groups are worried that T-Mobile’s bid for Sprint will likely lead to higher cellphone plans because there’s less competition.
The watchdog group Common Cause says low-income consumers seeking more affordable services will be particularly hurt.
But Mark Lowenstein, a mobile-industry consultant, says the move shouldn’t be seen as a consolidation in the wireless industry. Rather, he says, it’s a new industry structure, with wireless “competing in the larger broadband space.”
Shares of T-Mobile fell 4 percent to $61.87 in morning trading Monday. Sprint shares fell 17 percent to $5.65.