Blog Post

Why a T-Mobile-MetroPCS merger makes no sense

Updated. If the financial media can be believed, the merger of T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS(s PCS) is actually happening. Both Bloomberg and Reuters have dug up unnamed sources claiming that T-Mobile’s parent Deutsche Telekom is in the final stages of green-lighting a deal for Metro, the largest regional mobile player in the US.

Update: DT and MetroPCS have confirmed they’re in talks to combine to US operations. From Metro’s statement: “There can be no assurances that any transaction will result from these discussions, and the Company does not intend to comment further unless and until an agreement is reached.”

In May, when rumors first arose that DT would buy MetroPCS, I tried to debunk them, pointing out how the deal made no sense. I may be wrong about the rumors being false, but that doesn’t make the deal any less crazy. Merging T-Mobile, a GSM operator, with MetroPCS, a CDMA one, is absolutely insane.

The last operator to have this kind of bright idea was Sprint(s s) when it bought Nextel in 2005. At the time it was considered a mega-merger, but it didn’t change the fact Sprint was forced to run two distinct networks: its original CDMA infrastructure and Nextel’s iDEN systems. It had to maintain separate largely incompatible handset portfolios and manage two separate customer bases. We all know how that turned out, but let’s highlight some of the gorier details:

  • When the deal closed the combined Sprint-Nextel had 43 million customers and 22 percent of the US mobile market share. In seven years Sprint has grown by only 13 million subscribers, while its two biggest competitors, AT&T(s t) and Verizon(s vz)(s vod) have both doubled in size. Sprint’s share of US connections has shrunk to less than 17 percent.
  • Sprint hasn’t turned a yearly profit since it bought Nextel. That’s seven years of annual losses, while customers fled in droves from the Nextel network. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse says he believes Sprint will finally be profitable again in 2014, which happens to be the year after all traces of the Nextel iDEN network are wiped from the map.

T-Mobile and MetroPCS have two things in common: they use the same spectrum bands and they’re both coalescing around LTE as their future network technologies. You could make the argument that eventually these two operators will be technologically in tune offering a unified LTE service. But that transition will take years.

T-Mobile won’t launch LTE until 2013, and while MetroPCS has had 4G live since 2010, the vast majority of its subscriber base is still on its CDMA network. A combined ‘T-Metro’ would be a joint CDMA-GSM operation for years to come. That means enduring many years of operational hell and likely financial losses trying to juggle two separate sets of customers and managing three separate networks.

As for spectrum, MetroPCS has some attractive licenses, particularly in key metro markets like New York City and San Francisco. With its new network overhaul, T-Mobile maintains it’s in a solid spectrum position, but like any carrier it’s on the lookout for strategic opportunities to expand its holdings. Harvesting MetroPCS for its spectrum strikes me as a deal done in desperation, not one of strategy.

T-Mobile could shut down Metro’s CDMA networks completely and refarm their bandwidth for LTE and HSPA. But that would mean letting go of the lion’s share of Metro’s 9.3 million customers. Sure, T-Mobile could offer to switch out those customers’ CDMA phones for GSM-HSPA devices, but it would also require contracts to ensure those customers didn’t immediately bolt. There’s a flaw in that strategy, though: MetroPCS is a prepaid provider, and one of the primary reasons its customers are its customers is because they don’t want contracts.

Paying multiple billions of dollars just so T-Mobile can get its hands on a handful of licenses makes no sense. And T-Mobile has demonstrated there are plenty of other ways to get spectrum for far cheaper. Since its planned merger with AT&T died, T-Mobile has brokered a number of shrewd deals to get the airwaves it needs to launch LTE and increase its 3G capacity. As regulators scrutinize the increasing spectrum holdings of AT&T and Verizon more closely, T-Mobile will only be the beneficiary.

T-Mobile has plenty of spectrum options beyond buying MetroPCS outright, while actually trying to merge the two companies operationally would be a catastrophe. This deal may very well happen, but it will be a disaster in the making.

T-Mobile image courtesy of Flickr user swruler9284; Sprint photo courtesy of Shutterstock user Susan Law Cain; MetroPCS mage courtesy Flickr user Jeremy Brooks.

39 Responses to “Why a T-Mobile-MetroPCS merger makes no sense”

  1. It’s disappointing when I read articles that make really make no sense to me. How can this author make assumptions on the fate of this merger when his underlying analysis is based on inequitable circumstances that were present in the sprint merger.

  2. Also, Metro is a better deal for a lot of people. Even paying full price for the most expensive phone ($500, currently), you pay less over 2 years than getting that same phone for free with a contract.

  3. I am a metro PCS customer and I am excited about the merger. My only concern is that I need a new phone but am anxious about buying one only to have it become obsolete in he near future. I look forward to hearing a more precise timeline of the cancellation of CDMA and when GSM phones will be available at Metro stores.

  4. I am a Metropcs user and the reason why is because of contracts. its really all a bunch of bs, even tho the four major carriers do carry better tech, the whole contract setup never sits to well because when it comes to late fees and trying to leave the phone company. i think that someone middle class like myself will be a much more satisfied customer with Metropcs because of that one striking deal. The only reason why i switch to metro was because they finally stepped their game up a bit with the new S3. I was going to purchase it at T-Mobile until i got word of that. Anything better then being stuck to a damn contract 2yr contract -.- I don’t know what the hell Spectrum and LTE and all the other things you guys mention is, but so far Metro has the best deals deal for me as of now. ill have to learn about it soon tho since i am into a lot of today’s tech

  5. Early Oct.* galaxy s3 was about to be launched for MetroPCS, all of sudden they are trying to “JOIN” both companies. (Tmobile buying metropcs) LOL! clearly T mobile feels They going to lose a lot of customers due to MetroPCS’s Advancement in the phone game.

    MetroPCS ALL DAY!!!

  6. I’ve read through a lot of comments. Most are looking at this (in my estimation) from a technical aspect and not a Metro PCS customer aspect… so as someone who has used AT&T, Sprint, TMobile and finally Verizon for more years that I should have before happily discovering Metro PCS, let me provide my perspective.

    I hated the big companies. I carried the same plan on Verizon for years with no overages and yet my $49.95/month plan cost me between $98-$110/month. Yes, I said what I meant. I complained for years to Verizon that not in all that time did any two bills ever even have the same amount due, and that the fees were more than double the cost of the plan. After being told it was due to the taxes, which apparently vary month-to-month rather substantially, I discovered Metro PCS and ditched Verizon.

    I like not having the ridiculous monthly bill that varies. I get more now than I ever did with any other carrier, and all for $40 a month. New accounts have recently locked in at $25/month for the same plan that I use… simple talk and text basically. Everyone that I have met who uses Metro PCS seems to share this similarity of past cell carrier experiences.

    What Metro PCS customers are slow to do is to change phones. The prices are steep, and the only attractive thing lately has been the addition of Dyle TV, but that was rolled out on a cheap, more-than-a-year-old version of another handset used by one of the Big Four. Who wants to pay $500 for a ridiculously cheap and slow, antiquated handset just to watch TV.

    However, nearly 20% of the Dallas-Fort Worth area (which is well in excess of 5 million people) use only over-the-air TV signals. So, for Dallas, and the other large metroplexes where Metro PCS is located, Dyle TV has a lot of value and makes sense.

    This is where the merger would benefit the cost-conscious Metro PCS user… as well as the large broadcast group that formed to roll out Dyle TV and decided to use Metro PCS as their carrier – the merger would bring access to high-end phones at a substantially reduced price, even without any contracts, because of the increased BUYING POWER of the 42 million subscribers. As someone who grew tired of what amounted to at least $60/month for local stations & ESPN, I dropped the satellite/cable and went to OTV Signal. The HDTV pictures are beautiful… AND, having Dyle TV for back-up during bad weather and to use when I’m setting tile or sitting in traffic would be nice. I prefer to listen to something on TV like McHale’s Navy because it’s nice background noise, and with Dyle TV, I can take it anywhere… including the airport while I wait to board.

    Metro PCS has had, LTE since 2010. Only one million customers use it currently, but for a cost conscious group of people paying more for their LTE handsets than any other Big Four subscriber, I’d have to say that one million out of nine million is pretty darn good.

    If prices become more palatable, then I suspect that a very large portion of the Metro PCS customer base will immediately jump onto LTE phones. No one beats the $55/month for unlimited, unthrottled data and speed. I’d pay the $15/month extra, but I want the Dyle TV app and I want it on a current generation tech-level phone, especially if it’s going to cost me $450 for the handset.

    As for loyalty… I suspect that if those talking about Metro PCS customers had been one from the beginning, like many of us have, then there would be no more talk of worrying about customers leaving. The customer base in my personal experience with Dallas-Fort Worth, has remained loyal to Metro PCS, through the growing pains, been rewarded with LTE, and will remain customers, as long as the prices remain the same.

    If the merger means I keep my $25, $40 or the $55/month (truly unlimited, unthrottled LTE) plans AND I gain access to a more attractively priced AND better quality LTE phone, to possibly include some version of the iPhone, etc., or a more affordable and new tech Samsung base for the Dyle TV app, then I’m going to buy the new phone AND I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing for many years… which is remain a “Metro PCS” customer.

    So, from the consumer economics perspective, the reality is that the biggest reason Metro PCS has 8 million customers NOT using LTE is that they don’t need it enough to see the point in putting that much money into a handset, many of which the consumers believe (due to technical reviews, such as those by CNET, etc.) are sub-par handsets that are “recycled”, “antiquated” technology that is ill-suited to adequately use the speed of LTE. Most people I know that use Metro PCS say they do a lot of research on the handsets and deem them to be far to costly for old technology.

    Why people stay with Metro PCS:
    1) Affordable
    2) Big value for the cost of their monthly plan
    3) The bill is always the same
    4) Never having to call customer service about an issue with the bill

    What people with Metro PCS want:
    1) More coverage (would truly come with T-Mobile for many areas)
    2) Better quality handsets (would come with merger and better buying power)
    3) Better selection of handsets (would come with the merger & the buying power)
    4) Better price on the handsets (would come with the merger & the buying power)

    Metro PCS has served me well for many years. The only place I go where coverage is slightly suspect is on the coast of the Virginia where no one has decent coverage due to the limitations on cell towers – essentially, nothing is allowed over a couple or three stories on the Eastern Shore, so instead of bothering with towers to hold the hardware, they use the rooftops. So, no matter who my carrier was in the past, I NEVER had reliable reception everywhere on the ESVA.

    I see many reasons for the merger to succeed. Even if the two companies were to essentially operate independently under the same umbrella of ownership, the very fact that improved numbers equal better buying power would probably bring a huge increase in Metro PCS subscribers because of finally having affordable, desirable handsets. Handsets are the #1 reason given by anyone I know who is NOT on Metro PCS as the reason they have not changed. They know that an unlocked phone, according Metro PCS, will do simple things on the network, but will not be able to use all of the functions meaning that a Smartphone, etc. is basically reduced to ear candy that makes and takes calls and can send and receive text messages.

    Change that one thing alone at Metro PCS, and you could easily see Metro PCS double its subscribers.

    The BeLo group that helped form the OTA Signal group that gave birth to Dyle TV has to ecstatic right now! They could be seeing potential handset users go from 9 million to 42 million in an amount of time they never dreamed of… and, with the dongle for the Apple products coming, they can still garner the folks using their iPad, etc. on the other carriers.

    Finally, if Apple has 42 million reasons and growing to make an iPhone to sell to 42 million people who do not currently have one, then I’m betting that you will see an iPhone that works for the post-merger company. There’s just too much potential in profit to ignore those numbers for very long.

  7. Tony Silva

    Metro PCS LTE has the capability of handoff to CDMA or GSM hence the merger makes sense. This guy did not do his research before writing this article

  8. DJChameleon

    This article is 100% wrong because it generalizes from the Sprint Nextel merger when it isn’t remotely analogous. As a T-Mobile customer I am very excited about what this means for the future of T-Mobile. This will make it possible for T-Mobile to create a robust nationwide AWS LTE network, provide competitive 1900 MHZ coverage over GSM within 12 months and a jump start on their 700/1700 LTE network plans. I anticipate they will retain about 80% of the prepaid customers from Metro PCS after a year and the shutdown of CDMA. They were already migrating their customers to LTE so this will just speed up that transition. T-Mobile has a very robust prepaid lineup of devices and very competitive devices. The only customers they will lose are the ones willing to pay more for better network coverage because T-mobile will be able to offer better device selection and somewhat better coverage at about the same price. Metro PCS will be offered low and mid range devices for customers who wish to remain pre-paid and mid to high end devices for those willing to enter a contract at a very competitive price. The under reported benefit is after the 1900 spectrum is converted to GSM and combined with T-Mobile’s current 1900 holdings that are being lit up over the next 60 days T-Mobile will be completely compatible with AT&T devices and will be much more attractive to customers tired of paying a premium for AT&T and T-Mobile will be able to offer more high end devices because they won’t require smaller production runs with different radios to accommodate their AWS 3G network. They will be able to bring most any worldwide GSM phone on their network with a minimum of alteration,

    • Kevin Fitchard

      Hi DJ,

      My point is T-Mobile can accomplish all of that without merging with Metro. They don’t stand to gain much but they could lose plenty trying to make the merger work.

  9. triangle8

    Kevin, I don’t always agree with you, but on this piece, I completely agree that the execution and integration will be difficult. Ultimately, T-Mobile is buying the spectrum, some subscribers (but not all since many will churn off) and is taking out a competitor. It does seem a little bit desperate because the Company is in a downward spiral when it comes to growing its postpaid subscriber base. This deal won’t help them in that regard.

    A Sprint deal would make a lot more sense and ultimately, I would think that Sprint would be able to pay the highest price because of the technology fit between the two companies. The fact that T-Mobile is now considered the likely merger partner leads me to believe that T-Mobile is overpaying in order to win. Again, desperation.

  10. eliberto

    really good points on both sides of the equation but dont forget feb 2012 sprint didnt complete the merger with pcs for around 7.2 billion thats when pcs stock was at 6-7 dollars know it 13-14 a share that will mean tmobil will have to pay 10-11 billion for metro pcs plus for those who dont know tmobile is doing a 4 billion dollar network update to 2014 plus it wants to get the iphone 5 in 2013 which we all know it isnt cheap sprint to get the iphone did a 15 billion 4 year contract with apple so tmobile/metro will have to cover 400 dollars on every iphone it sells like att, verizon, and sprint already do. 1 more thing tmobil has cheaper contracts the the other 3 but it is still losing 200-300,000 costumers every time u look 2nd if you think that its very easy to convert people to lte ur veeeeery wrong just look at verizon with over 400 markets of lte but only 9-10% are covered k know lets look at metro someone said 1 million k not bad but their lte get 2-3 mbps compared to att verizon and sprint at around 6-9 mbps that tells u that their network cant handle all of 9.3 million costumers it has every one is short on spectrum k k k u cant turn every costumer to lte it will jam the network to 3g-2g speeds 3rd tmobile /metro pcs if it happens so be it but it will it will take 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 years to integrate,take advantage of metros lte,have a lte network that will be capable of handling every costumer, and lastly metro should have merged with leap aka cricket wireless and use its network and costumers and have around 15 million, more spectrum, more cities it will cover ,better chances of becoming a serious player

    • Saykred Cow

      Well with the proposed at&t transaction DT was going to end up with 12% of the combined entity and I don’t think this issue was brought up or a concern.

      Actually now that I think about it I believe the german government only owns 30% of DT making that issue irrelevant.

  11. Arcturus

    I agree this is probably the probably the first step to phasing out of cdma by T mobile. DT is well on the way to becoming EU’s AT&T. While the play a 3rd role in the US many forget how strong DT actually is.

  12. keninca

    So would Verizon’s or Sprint CDMA iPhones run on MetroPCS’s CDMA network? If they would, the deal would make a lot of sense for T-Mo, which can’t get the iphone. They are the only major carrier that charges less for people who bring their own phones. People can’t really bring their own iphones to T-Mo, because they don’t get 3G data. But if they could get 3G CDMA data on used iphones, and then 4G on LTE, the deal would make sense.

    I had 3 Android phones on my T-Mo plan. My 2 sons want iphones, so those will be moving to Sprint. I can see why T-Mo would want to be able to offer the iphone, as I’m sure my experience is not isolated.

    • Saykred Cow

      You can just buy it unlocked from the Apple store and then switch to Tmo’s Value Plans which are cheaper because you don’t get a device subsidy. You’ll come off cheaper than Sprint even though you pay full price for your phone and you’ll get some good data speeds once they refarm the network.

      • keninca

        Yes, but if you buy an unlocked iphone that works on ATT today, it won’t use T-Mo’s 3G/4G networks (at least not everywhere). I was wondering if the CDMA phones sold for Sprint and Verizon would work on MetroPCS’ 3G/4G network; if they do, then T-Mo could support those customers. It would also make the used iphone market more valuable, as people could buy phones from VZ or Sprint subscribers and use them with the new T-Mo.

    • triangle8

      Sorry, but it won’t work. The CDMA phones won’t work on MetroPCS network because much of it works on a spectrum band called AWS, which the iphone does not support. The phones are also locked…

  13. These type of mergers are the tombstone of capitalism and open up to a new era of corporativism. These mergers that concentrate strategical industries in the hands of a few players, killing competition, should be illegal. We saw it with the banking industry, the giants like Bank of America buying up other banks, falsely boasting improved service, while we witnessed quite the opposite. I was a proud Cingular customer before AT&T bought it and started my era of phone nightmares…unending jacked up prices, hidden costs, strange incoming calls and texts…I went from paying $60 a month to $120 a month for a far worse service. Now I have MetroPcs and can’t believe that once again some corporate giant will further merge and concentrate the market…if the prices of MetroPcs will rise because of it, then I will sadly migrate once again. I was going to get the Samsung Galaxy S3 with MetroPcs, but now will wait to see the development of this merger, before getting stuck with a new provider that I would hate.

    • Saykred Cow

      Actually I would argue this kind of merger is GOOD for competition. The US wireless market currently has Verizon and At&t’s with the lion’s share of control… they just have this crazy lead in customer base and their interests usually align… look at how they both moved to more expensive shared data plans. Combining Metro and T-Mobile would still leave at&t with more than DOUBLE the customer base of the combined two but it gives them a better chance to compete with those bloated giants.

    • oneoflight

      Hey don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. I was a satisfied T Mo customer in their prepaid for so long I signed that elusive contract and am still quite satisfied. 50 a month for unlimited talk/text/250MB data at high speed then unlimited 2g (which will soon be phased out and all tmo data will reportedly be 3g anyway) so give it a shot – you might find yourself happy – they’re better than boost or virgin anyway lol.

  14. Huh ? They have the same AWS bands & Metro PCS is moving from CDMA as fast as they can . It makes a lot of sense actually as far as building a LTE network goes .

  15. To add to what I just posted.. While free/discounted phones is not cheap, letting it turn into a Nextel-Sprint fiasco is MUCH more expensive.. They need to spectrum as much, if not more, than the new 9m customer base. You need to remember, they are must more likely interested in the spectrum than the customers.. But if they can have their cake, and eat it too, by offering new phones on value plan contracts, or prepaid, you can bet they will try.

    Also remember, they have just made a spectrum swap deal with Verizon, Leap, and the tower sell off for $2.4 billion in funds. If metroPCS is a reality, they will not wait to ‘convert’ towers. They will clean people off the CDMA frequency’s and repurpose them quickly.

    Not pushing to get them on HSPA phones quickly would be death.

    Big image here people.

    • Kevin Fitchard

      Hey Tim, I agree with you that the strategy is sound, but I think it will take a longer and a lot more hassle to execute than worth T-Mo’s while. There are other options for spectrum out there paying a premium on $5 billion market cap company with limited licenses. If it’s buying customers then T-Mobile is going to spend a lot more money keeping them than its worth.

  16. You are being short sighted

    Metro has gotten 1 million people to purchase LTE phones and have already activated VoLTE on their network. They have already started refarming spectrum and are shutting down cdma and replacing it with lte. If T-mobile buys metro they will quickly gain 1 million lte subscribers and a 17 market lte network. They could start releasing phones that supports Metro’s LTE network and Tmo’s gsm network. They could set a date for CDMA death and work on getting people to use GSM/LTE phones.

    Metro only has 9million customers which is small. This isn’t the Sprint Nextel merger where both entities were equal. If tmo buys metro their combine customer base will be 40million and 32million of them will be using a global standard.

    • Antonio Perez

      Correct,the key to this merger is spectrum to roll out LTE not who uses GSM or CDMA,when that happens those using Metro’s CDMA will eventually migrate to LTE,which will be the new standard for data,and has been already demonstrated possibly for voice too.

  17. Brian Miller

    The assertion that new handsets require contracts is strange. The CDMA devices that Metro sells are strictly very-low-end, disposable handsets. There’s no reason T-Mo couldn’t do an at-cost swapout of lower-cost GSM handsets to preserve the lion’s share of the customer base.

    T-Mobile today will sell you one of their portfolio of low-end pre-paid GSM smart devices today at a very competitive cost. Most of those devices are better than the comparable Metro offerings.

    As for the idea that “customers will just leave,” where would they go? Any departure would require them to get another device anyway, and chances are that the other prepaid offerings won’t be any more competitive than what the combined T-Mo/Metro offering would be. I doubt that someone paying $55/month for an unlimited prepaid plan would ditch a comparable T-Mo offering to go to one of the Big Two for two or three times the same cost.

    • Kevin Fitchard

      Hi Brian,

      A lot of Metro’s customers have switched over the Android devices. They may not be sporting Galaxy S III, but I don’t think T-Mobile can get away with offering these guys low-end talk-and-phones.

      As for your second point I agree that T-Mo would probably have the more attractive rates. But I also think that T-Mo suddenly saying “Your phone will no longer work. Either buy a new one or sign a contract” will have big consequences.

      • Saykred Cow

        You should take a look at T-Mobile’s monthly 4G offerings. Almost all that stuff is better than the majority of devices Metro offers… also all Android. On the prepaid side T-Mobile sells some 3.2 inch screen android phones for $100 and 4G phones starting at $200 like the Galaxy Exhibit… that guy has a front facing camera, 3.7 inch screen and all.

        Even the Nokia Lumia 710 Windows Phone 7 is $200 on T-Mobile prepaid. I don’t think even Metro has that kind of selection of devices and device pricing. It looks like a total win for Metro customers. I also don’t see it being out of the question for T-Mobile to offer Metro customers additional discounts on top of that and let them keep their existing plan.

  18. They can do what ATT did with Altel. Send out fliers to all Metro PCS Customers, offer steep discounts and/or free phones giving them 6 months to come in and get their new phone. After that, anyone left will call in and find they need to get a new phone to continue getting service.

    It’s not pretty, but effective. My parents got several mailers and a few calls from Altel, so they had plenty of notice.. Its not the cheapest way, but its fast, and effective.

  19. James Hancock

    It makes sense because MetroPCS has bandwidth in 1900mhz where T-mobile is rolling out 3g for Iphones and 1700mhz which is covered by the iphone for LTE and they have it in areas T-mobile desperately needs.

    This isn’t about customers. They’ll give the customers new phones and get them off of CDMA quickly and take that hit.

    • Kevin Fitchard

      Hi James,

      I just don’t think it’s as easy as you make it sound. T-Mobile isn’t going to give away 9 million free phones, especially with no guarantee they’ll stay. These customers aren’t on contract. They’ll just leave.

      • Phantom Harlock

        CDMA is being killed by all of the operators to make room for Voice over LTE, Kevin, you need to learn about network engineering. Also, you are comparing apples to oranges, Sprint’s deal with NexTel failed due to incompatibilities of spectrum with iDen tech, with this deal, spectrum is spectrum, and customers will have to purchase new tech either way. TMobile will give the MetroPCS customers another year, then they will be integrated correctly, and Tmobile will have the extra spectrum for VOLTE. This article doesn’t make much sense.

      • Saykred Cow

        There is precedent for this though.

        When At&t bought all the divested Alltel markets they gave customers a 6 month notice to trade in their phones for equivalent ones and very quickly turned off CDMA.

        I think since the industry is more data focused than it was when mergers in the past occurred, the spectrum matters much more than handset technology. In this case, it lines up perfectly with what T-Mobile needs. AWS for LTE. Also PCS for HSPA+ so they get better coverage for unlocked iPhone users.

        Sprint/Nextell isn’t a fair comparison. People NEEDED push to talk handsets and couldn’t use that feature by switching to a cdma Sprint device. T-Mobile offers much better devices on the cheap and already have national trade in offers so I can’t imagine exchanging your metro device for an equivalent T-Mobile one would be so far out of the question.

        Ultimately though I believe ,in the way the industry is currently, it makes LESS sense for Sprint to acquire Metro even though they are CDMA because they would be acquiring spectrum bands they don’t even USE currently. That’s a BIGGER waste. Who cares if they are both CDMA? Sprint doesn’t need yet another band.

        With T-Mobile, if they close the metro transaction, they’ve essentially accomplished what at&t tried to do when they bought them. Think about all the spectrum gains they have made so far: At&t break up spectrum, Verizon cable spectrum, Leap spectrum exchange, and now Metro.

        It also seems like someone else will buy Metro if T-Mobile doesn’t and with all the fewer places to get AWS spectrum these days they may be backed into a corner. Not that it’s TOO bad of a corner. With pretty much the ONLY hurdle being the customer base using CDMA phones. But let’s face it, what’s left in the US that doesn’t use CDMA? If T-Mobile’s parent is trying to expand that issue seems like an inevitable hurdle regardless.

      • Charles

        Now wait a minute Kevin, it could be that simple. Think about it in this manner, a offer that is pre-paid with so many months up front that fits T-mo’s formula. It isn’t a guarantee but it is calculated with their formula to entice them to stay. Because in the end it is about monthly satisfied customers isn’t it?

  20. Patrick Kabir

    what about the tech MetroPCS has been trumpeting where they can choose what network they can roam on, presumably they could choose for the fallback net to be T-Mobile HSPA and cannibalize Metro’s CDMA infrastructure to use that spectrum for T-Mobile’s LTE rollout.

    • Kevin Fitchard

      Hi Patrick,

      What about the 9.3 million CDMA phones on its network that don’t have HSPA+ radios? MetroPCS has a market cap of $5 billion. DT will have to pay a premium on that precisely because of its customers, none of whom are under contract. They switch networks, those customers leave.