Sprint’s talks with T-Mobile about merging the two U.S. wireless companies are still fueling rumors and wonder about whether or not the third and fourth largest wireless providers will combine forces. While some believe that such a merger would injure the wireless market by potentially giving the resulting conglomerate too much market share, an agreement is still a ways off for both parties. Both Sprint and T-Mobile have issued some comments on the progress of the merger, but it has not stopped either company from building out their spectrum ownership.
VISUAL CONTEXT: T-MOBILE’S EXPANDING COVERAGE
Sprint has expanded its 4G LTE spectrum coverage by 352,000 square miles in conjunction with the NetAmerica alliance, according to reports. The expansion includes a dozen new deals with local carriers in regional and rural places to ensure Sprint’s extension into areas without coverage. Sprint’s news site states that 34 million users will be covered by this particular expansion, with SouthernLINC Wireless as its largest partner, covering 127,000 square miles and 18 million people in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.
T-Mobile is also looking into expanding its spectrum coverage by partnering with smaller providers, in a move to hedge its bets in case the Sprint deal does not fall through, according to Reuters. The company is looking into low-band spectrum specifically — a type of spectrum that is more useful in urban areas as it is capable of better penetrating buildings. GeekWire quotes T-Mobile CEO John Legere on the plans for the merger as well as the company’s continued buildout of spectrum should the deal not come to fruition:
In anything we do, it will be about the Uncarrier revolution and the T-Mobile company and brand getting bigger and stronger and changing the industry…I know what we’ve done in the last year-and-a-half is a small inkling of what real competition is like. In order to keep it going, there’s things we need in the long term — scale, spectrum, etc. And one way to get those is consolidation.
T-Mobile has been on rampage trying to accrue more customers through dramatic ad campaigns and revolutionary deals for new users including paying for their early termination fees should they leave a rival carrier for T-Mobile. The company has also restructured certain plans to include free international calls, among other deals that have thus far been unheard of in the U.S. wireless market. The company has been successful in gathering new recruits, but even so has not been able to scoot up the rank of U.S. carriers. Because a deal with Sprint is not set in stone, T-Mobile is wise to expand its spectrum offerings.