The wireless companies have been considering a combination for year.
Stan Choe/Tali Arbel
NEW YORK.- T -Mobile and Sprint reached a $26.5 billion merger agreement Sunday that would reduce the U.S. wireless industry to three major players — that is, if the Trump administration’s antitrust regulators let the deal go through.
The nation’s third- and fourthlargest wireless companies have been considering a combination for years, one that would bulk them up to a similar size as industry giants Verizon and AT&T. But a 2014 attempt fell apart amid resistance from the Obama administration.
Consumers worry a less crowded telecom field could result in higher prices, while workers unions are concerned about potential job losses.
In a conference call with Wall Street analysts, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure acknowledged that getting regulatory approval is “the elephant in the room,” and one of the first things the companies did after sending out the deal’s news release was to call Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.
The companies stressed that they plan to have more employees following the combination, particularly in rural areas, than they do as stand-alone companies now. They also emphasized that the deal would help accelerate their development of faster 5G wireless networks and ensure that the U.S. doesn’t cede leadership on the technology to China.
And they said the combination would allow them to better compete not only with AT&T and Verizon but also with Comcast and others as the wireless, broadband and video industries converge.