Smartphone users in the United States are quite familiar with the big four carriers by now, and while the presence of these companies can sometimes feel like an anchor in an otherwise turbulent industry, we’ve seen more than a few efforts to shake things up and change the pecking order a little. Those have included plans like AT&T’s failed attempt to purchase T-Mobile a few years back. More recently, we’ve been looking at the possibility of Sprint and T-Mobile merging, and despite recent comments from the CEO of T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom, claiming that no sale was in the immediate future, a new report out today insists that the deal’s nearly done.
Let’s back up for a moment: Japanese carrier SoftBank began an effort to purchase Sprint in late 2012, and after some stumbling blocks it ultimately was able to close the deal, holding eighty percent ownership of Sprint. Now SoftBank’s after T-Mobile, too, and while this deal also looked like it was facing resistance, insider reports now assert that Deutsche Telekom is close to accepting SoftBank’s offer, and the two companies are working out the finer details.
Still, it’s important to remember that even if this information is accurate, there’s a lot more to making this happen than simply Deutsche Telekom agreeing to sell; the very same government regulatory oversight that was so problematic for the AT&T/T-Mobile deal would still need to be faced, and while the idea of two smaller carriers like Sprint and T-Mobile joining forces to compete against the larger players might be an easier sell, approval is far from a certainty.