Sprint and T-Mobile won’t merge soon. That’s a fact. So, how will both of them compete against market leaders AT&T and Verizon, each having double the subscriber base of either fourth- or third-place carrier?

T-Mobile has a slate of infrastructure improvements to prime itself for 5G in the next three years. Sprint is cutting back on promotions and focusing on its network. And it’s getting an increased stake from its majority stockholder SoftBank.

Well, Deutsche Telekom is about to put in more money for T-Mobile, too. The Un-carrier announced its first stock buyback program that will go through the rest of this year all the way through the end of 2018 with up to $1.5 billion in sight. In addition, CFO Braxton Carter says that he expects Deutsche Telekom to buy up to $500 million of stock — at current market valuation, that would push the parent company’s stake up only 1 percent, but just above the two-thirds mark.

The company is prepared to exercise more control of its own destiny and is confident in its ownership and forward cash flow. Free cash stood at $921 million in the third quarter, up 57 percent from the year before.

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