Category Archives: Sprint

The US Wireless Market in Q3 2016

One of the markets I follow most closely is the US wireless market. Every quarter, I collect dozens of metrics for the five largest operators, churn out well over a hundred charts, and provide analysis and insight to my clients on this topic. Today, I’m going to share just a few highlights from my US wireless deck, which is available on a standalone basis or as part of the Jackdaw Research Quarterly Decks Service, along with some additional analysis. If you’d like more information about any of this, please visit the Jackdaw Research website or contact me directly.

Postpaid phones – little growth, with T-Mobile gobbling up most of it

The mainstay of the US wireless industry has always been postpaid phones, and it continues to account for over half the connections and far more than half the revenues and profits. But at this stage, there’s relatively little growth left in the market – the four main carriers added fewer than two million new postpaid phone customers in the past year, a rate that has been slowing fairly steadily:

postpaid-phone-net-adds-for-big-4This was always inevitable as phone penetration began to reach saturation, and as the portion of the US population with good credit became particularly saturated. But that reality means that future growth either can’t come from postpaid phones, or has to come through market share gains almost exclusively.

In that context, then, T-Mobile has very successfully pursued the latter strategy, winning a disproportionate share of phone customers from its major competitors over the last several years. The chart below shows postpaid phone net adds by carrier:postpaid-phone-net-adds-by-carrier

As you can see, T-Mobile is way out in front for every quarter but Q2 2014, when AT&T preemptively moved many of its customers onto new cheaper pricing plans. AT&T has been negative for much of the last two years at this point, while Sprint has finally returned to growth during the same period, and Verizon has seen lower adds than historically. What’s striking is that T-Mobile and Sprint have achieved their relatively strong performances in quite different ways. Whereas Sprint’s improved performance over the past two years has been almost entirely about reducing churn – holding onto its existing customers better – T-Mobile has combined reduced churn with dramatically better customer acquisition.

The carriers don’t report postpaid phone gross adds directly, but we can derive total postpaid gross adds from net adds and churn, and I find the chart below particularly striking:

What that chart shows is that T-Mobile is adding far more new customers in proportion to its existing base than any of the other carriers. Sprint is somewhat close, but AT&T and Verizon are far behind. But the chart also shows that this source of growth for T-Mobile has slowed down in recent quarters, likely as a direct effect of the slowing growth in the market overall. And that slowing gross adds number has translated into lower postpaid phone net adds over the past couple of years too:


That’s a bit of an unconventional chart, but is shows T-Mobile’s postpaid phone net adds on an annual basis, so you can see how each year’s numbers compare to previous years’. As you can see, for most of 2015 and 2016, these net adds were down year on year. The exceptions were again around Q2 2014, and then the quarter that’s just ended – Q3 2016, when T-Mobile pipped its Q3 2015 number ever so slightly. The reason? Likely the launch of T-Mobile One, which I wrote about previously. The big question is whether T-Mobile will return to the declining pattern we saw previously when the short-term effects of the launch of T-Mobile One wear off.

Smartphone sales – slowing on postpaid, holding up in prepaid

All of this naturally has a knock-on effect on sales of smartphones, along with the adoption of the new installment plans and leasing, which are breaking the traditional two-year upgrade cycle. The number of new smartphones in the postpaid base has been slowing dramatically over the last couple of years too:


But the other thing that’s been happening is that upgrade rates have been slowing down significantly too. From a carrier reporting perspective, the number that matters here is the percentage of postpaid devices being upgraded in the quarter. This number has declined quite a bit in the last couple of years too, across all the carriers, as shown in the cluster of charts below:


The net result of this is fewer smartphones being sold, and the number of postpaid smartphones sold has fallen year on year for each of the last four quarters. Interestingly, the prepaid sales rate is holding up a little better, likely because smartphone penetration is lower in the prepaid market. There were also signs in Q3 that the new iPhones might be driving a slightly stronger upgrade cycle than last year, which could be good for iPhone sales in Q4 if that trend holds up through the first full quarter of sales.

What’s interesting is that the upgrade rates are very different between carriers, and T-Mobile in particular captures far more than its fair share of total sales, while AT&T captures far less than it ought to. The chart below compares the share of the smartphone base across the four major carriers with the share of smartphone sales:


As you can see, T-Mobile’s share of sales is far higher than its share of the base, while AT&T’s (and to a lesser extent Verizon’s) is far lower.

Growth beyond phones

So, if postpaid phone growth is slowing, growth has to come from somewhere else, and that’s very much been the case. Tablets had been an important source of growth for some of the carriers for a few years, but their aggressive pursuit has begun to cost them dearly now, at least in the case of Sprint and Verizon. Both carriers had promotions on low-cost tablets two years ago and are now finding that buyers don’t feel the need to keep the relationship going now their contracts are up. Both are seeing substantial tablet churn as a result, and overall tablet net adds are down by a huge amount over the past year:


There may be some recovery in tablet growth as Verizon and Sprint work their way through their churn issues, but I suspect this slowing growth is also reflective of broader industry trends for tablets, which appear to be stalling. Still in postpaid, there’s been a little growth in the “other” category, too, but that’s mostly wireless-based home phone services, and it’s not going to drive much growth overall. So, the industry likely needs to look beyond traditional postpaid services entirely.

Prepaid isn’t growing much faster

The next big category for the major operators is prepaid, which has gone through an interesting evolution over the last few years. It began as the option for people who couldn’t qualify for postpaid service because of poor credit scores, and was very much the red-headed stepchild of the US wireless industry, in contrast to many other markets where it came to dominate. But there was a period a few years back where it began to attract customers who could have bought postpaid services but preferred the flexibility of prepaid, especially when prepaid began to achieve feature parity with postpaid. However, that ebbed again as installment plans took off on the postpaid side and made those services more flexible. Now, we’re going through yet another change as a couple of the big carriers use their prepaid brands as fighter brands, going after their competitors’ postpaid customers. The result is that those two carriers are seeing very healthy growth in prepaid, while the other operators are struggling.  In the chart below, I’ve added in TracFone, which is the largest prepaid operator in the US, but not a carrier (it uses the other operators’ networks on a wholesale basis):


As you can see, AT&T (mostly through its Cricket brand) and T-Mobile (mostly through its MetroPCS brand) have risen to the top, even as Sprint has gone rapidly downhill and Verizon and TracFone have mostly bounced around roughly at or below zero. There is some growth here, but it’s all being captured by the two operators, while the others are treading water or slowly going under.

Connected devices – the fastest-growing category

The fastest-growing category in the US wireless market today is what are called connected devices. For the uninitiated, that probably requires something of an explanation, since you might think of all wireless connections as being connected devices. The best way to think about the connected devices category is that these are connections sold for non-traditional things, so not phones and mostly not tablets either, but rather connected cars, smart water meters, fleet tracking, and all kinds of other connections which are more about objects than people. The one exception is the wireless connections that get bundled into some Amazon Kindle devices as part of the single upfront purchase, where the monthly bill goes to Amazon and not the customer.

This category has been growing faster than all the others – the chart below shows net adds for the four major categories we’ve discussed so far across the five largest operators, and you can see that connected devices are well out in front over the past year or so:comparison-of-net-adds

Growth in this category, in turn, is dominated by two operators – AT&T and Sprint, as shown in the chart below (note that Verizon doesn’t report net adds in this category publicly):connected-devices-net-adds

At AT&T, many of these net adds are in the connected car space, where it has signed many of the major car manufacturers as customers. The rest of AT&T’s and most of Sprint’s are a mix of enterprise and industrial applications, along with the Kindle business at AT&T. T-Mobile also has a much smaller presence here, and Verizon has a legacy business as the provider of GM’s OnStar services as well as a newer IoT-focused practice.

Though the connection growth here is healthier than the other segments, the revenue per user is much lower, in some cases only single digit dollars a month. However, this part of the market is likely to continue to grow very rapidly in the coming years even as growth in the core postpaid and prepaid markets evaporates, so it’s an important place for the major carriers to invest for future growth.

Google’s MVNO ambitions

This is a post I had intended to write a few weeks back, when the Google MVNO rumors first started circulating, but never got around to. With Sundar Pichai’s remarks at Mobile World Congress this week rekindling the topic, I thought I’d finally set down by thoughts on this story. I haven’t been completely silent on this topic – I’ve tweeted about it quite a bit, talked to a few reporters, and discussed it on the Techpinions podcast (skip to 21:35). But I wanted to pull my thoughts together here in a coherent fashion. I’m pasting a transcript of my remarks on the podcast at the bottom of this post, because it sums this up pretty neatly, but I’ll expand a bit on the detail here.

The two rules of MVNOs

If you don’t know much about MVNOs, I’ll give you a quick primer. The first thing to know is that an MVNO is a mobile virtual network operator, which means these companies don’t own their own networks, but instead buy “airtime” (minutes, data etc) on a wholesale basis from those who do. In some markets such wholesale arrangements are mandated and regulated, but in others (including the US), both the arrangements themselves and the pricing are left to individual operators.

All this gives rise to what I like to think of as the two rules of MVNOs:

  • You can never be truly disruptive to the company whose network you’re using, because it always has the power to shut your business down
  • Wireless carriers will never support you as an MVNO unless they believe you can reach a niche or segment they can’t reach as effectively directly, rather than competing directly with them.

Partly as a result of these rules, despite the success of MVNOs in certain other markets, they’ve largely failed in the US, with many going out of business or being acquired by their host network operators. The one exception is Tracfone, which uses several major operators’ networks and targets largely low-end prepaid subscribers most of the carriers don’t want to own directly.

What this means for Google

All of which brings us to Google’s reported ambitions in the MVNO space, which are allegedly based on some sort of cooperation with T-Mobile and Sprint. In addition to the two rules above, the third thing worth bearing in mind here is most carriers’ view of Google. Google is one of the two companies that already has the most leverage over the carriers today, along with Apple. While Apple has arguably been more disruptive to most carriers with its refusal to pre-install carrier software, its direct retail and customer service relationships with many customers, its FaceTime and iMessage offerings which compete with carrier voice and text messaging and so on, Google has already demonstrated that it’s perfectly willing to disrupt carriers’ businesses too. Google Fiber, Hangouts, Google Voice, Google Wallet, Android Pay, Google Maps and other products either have already disrupted or have the potential to disrupt services offered by carriers. With both Apple and Google, carriers are already looking for ways to reduce their dependence on them and to temper their influence and power with end users.

Taking the two MVNO rules and these opinions about Google together, then, we can easily see that whatever Google wanted to do in mobile, the carriers wouldn’t support it unless it:

  • Would be complementary to their businesses
  • Would be relatively small in scale
  • Would not compete directly in any meaningful way with their existing offerings
  • Would not compete directly on price.

Three possible business models

Given all this, ideas about full-blown wireless services from Google make little sense. What makes much more sense is something that’s narrowly defined, targeted and relatively small in the grand scheme of things. Three possibilities I’ve floated are:

  • Wireless connectivity for Nexus devices, the only wireless devices Google sells directly to consumers through the Play store, such that this connectivity would be built in with the purchase, and the customer would only ever deal with Google. This would overcome some of Google’s challenges with getting carriers to carry Nexus devices directly, and fits with the new direction Google is taking with Nexus devices, moving away from the developer focus and towards a broader consumer appeal
  • Wireless connectivity for non-phone devices, such as a successor to the Chromebook Pixel, Android tablets (perhaps Nexus ones only, in keeping with the previous bullet), etc. This could potentially also include Android Wear devices with their own cellular connectivity.
  • Wireless connectivity for smart home, connected car or other non-device applications. With Google’s Nest business, Android Auto, self-driving cars and so on, Google has several non-device businesses which could benefit from direct cellular connectivity as they expand and evolve.

None of these would be hugely disruptive or competitive with carriers’ existing businesses, either because they’re too small or mostly additive to their existing activities. As such, I think each of these is entirely possible as a future for Google’s MVNO. And of course all this fits with what Sundar Pichai said at MWC this week (I’m quoting TechCrunch here in the absence of a formal transcript):

The core of Android and everything we do is to take an ecosystem approach and [a network would have] the same attributes. We have always tried to push the boundary with the innovations in hardware and software,” he said. “We want to experiment along those lines. We don’t intend to be a network operator at scale. We are actually working with carrier partners. Will announce something in the coming months.

This very much appears to confirm the idea that it’s going to be working with devices and software it owns and controls, rather than a more open approach. It also confirms that it’s not a large-scale initiative but rather a focused one. I’m curious to see exactly what it ends up being (it could easily end up being all three of the things I described and more) but hopefully we’ll stop seeing the sort of thing we’ve been reading about Google upending the wireless industry.

Here’s that podcast transcript:

The fundamental challenge of being an MVNO is that you’re buying airtime from the very companies you’re competing with, who dictate the prices and will always structure it and sell it to you in such a way that you can’t eat their lunch… They only do it where they feel the potential MVNO can fill a gap they otherwise can’t fill directly. So in other words they’re expanding the addressable market and not competing with them directly. And this is the biggest question I’ve had about Google: what could they do, that Sprint and/or T-Mobile would be willing to support, that would not go head to head and compete directly against them? That makes me think it’s somehow a niche that they’re going after, and there are a couple of possible options around that: one is that it’s for Nexus devices, so that when they sell Nexus devices through the Google Play store it comes with bundled connectivity with some interesting structure, features and services associated with it… The other is that the Chromebook Pixel was sold with Verizon connectivity, so that’s another angle, that some of their non-phone devices that are data-only devices that would have some combination of WiFi footprint that they could take advantage of plus LTE as needed for them to fall back onto… I just cannot see Google becoming a broad-based mobile operator in the US. It just doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t make sense that Sprint and T-Mobile would support that either.

Q3 2014 US Wireless Trends Deck

Last week, FierceWireless published my brief analysis of some key trends in the US wireless market in Q3 2014, along with exclusive early access to the slide deck I do each quarter. As of this morning, the deck is now available on Slideshare for viewing, embedding and downloading (as a PDF). I’ve embedded it below for easy access, but feel free to share it and download it as you see fit.

The data behind the deck is available in Excel or Numbers format as a paid product from Jackdaw Research, on either a one-off basis or an annual subscription. Please contact me if you are interested in either of these options. I hope you find these useful. Equivalent decks for the past two quarters may be found (along with some other decks) on my Slideshare page.

Analysis of Q2 2014 US wireless market

Last quarter, I provided an overview of trends among the major US wireless providers in Q1 2014, and I’m repeating that analysis here for Q2 2014. A short preview including some analysis has been available on FierceWireless for the past week. I’m now providing additional analysis (below) and a detailed set of slides on Slideshare (also embedded below). Last quarter’s analysis is here, and a recent post on Sprint and T-Mobile, which provides further analysis is here.

This analysis covers five providers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Tracfone and Verizon Wireless. Four of these are the largest carriers in the US market, and Tracfone is the fifth-largest provider, though not a carrier but an MVNO. There are other MVNOs in the US market, but none of them comes close to Tracfone in scale, and that’s why it’s included in this analysis. It’s also the largest prepaid provider in the US by some margin. These five providers between them make up the vast majority of the US market, especially since the acquisitions of Leap Wireless and MetroPCS in the last couple of years by AT&T and T-Mobile.

A tale of two markets

In many ways, the US wireless market is in fact still two separate markets, with AT&T and Verizon in one half, and the other players operating in the other. This is evident in total subscribers and revenues, margins, churn rates and other metrics, with AT&T and Verizon either larger or performing significantly better than the rest of the players. Here, for example, is a chart showing total subscribers for the five players:Total wireless subscribersAnd here is a chart showing EBITDA margins:

Wireless EBITDA marginsThese carriers’ relative scale and profitability are related, as I’ve discussed previously, and most recently in last week’s post on Sprint and T-Mobile. This is perhaps the most important fact to understand about the US market, and one that isn’t likely to change anytime soon, as the gulf between the two largest players is far too great for any of the smaller players to bridge in the near future, at least organically. Continue reading

Where do Sprint and T-Mobile go from here?

After a couple of days of talking to various reporters about the Sprint and T-Mobile news from this week, I thought I’d take some time to write up my thoughts on the situation. I already posted some thoughts on Dan Hesse’s tenure at Sprint here. This has turned into a longish post, so here are some signposts for you: the first section deals with why the Sprint-T-Mobile merger made sense, the second deals with where Sprint goes from here, the third deals with where T-Mobile goes from here, and at the end I talk about other issues relating to T-Mobile, namely the other potential merger offers, T-Mobile’s claim to be the largest prepaid carrier in the US, and its goal of catching Sprint by the end of the year (each of those hyperlinks will take you to the relevant part of the post).

Why the merger made sense

I did a long post previously about why the Sprint-T-Mobile merger made sense. If you haven’t read that, I suggest you do, because I won’t cover the same ground in detail again here and the basic arguments haven’t changed even if some of the numbers have. In brief, Sprint and T-Mobile both suffer from their small scale relative to Verizon and AT&T, which manifests itself especially in advertising spend, network costs, retail distribution and purchasing power. Sprint and T-Mobile have attempted to overcome their ad spend disadvantage through various means, Sprint with its Framily plans, which create a viral effect as people try to sign up friends, family and apparently complete strangers; and T-Mobile with its heavy use of social media for marketing. And SoftBank’s acquisition of Sprint and Brightstar has allowed the combined company to generate greater purchasing power in devices and accessories. But a fundamental and significant gap remains.

This is evident nowhere so much as in the various companies’ margins, as shown below (this chart is an excerpt from the deep dive on US wireless operators’ Q2 performance which I’ll be publishing early next week. A preview is available on FierceWireless now):

Screenshot 2014-08-07 09.57.12As you can see, both T-Mobile and Sprint are languishing in the single digits, while AT&T and Verizon were at around 25% and over 30% respectively last quarter. This is a direct result of their lack of scale, and slow organic increases in subscribers won’t solve this problem anytime soon. This is the single greatest argument for a merger between the two, and nothing else can solve this fundamental problem. The fifth company in the mix there is Tracfone, which is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), which piggybacks off the carriers’ networks. Most of its costs are variable rather than fixed, and as such it doesn’t have the same scale disadvantages, but it has to pay wholesale rates to the carriers, which doesn’t allow it to be as profitable as AT&T and Verizon either.

Ultimately, though, the merger faced enormous regulatory opposition, and it was by no means a certainty that it would go through. US regulators would apparently rather see a short-term continuation of the current market structure than a more sustainable long-term competitive environment. I suspect that will come back to bite them a year or two from now. The challenge is that neither Sprint nor T-Mobile is exactly on the brink of collapse today, and so it’s easy to argue the situation isn’t urgent. However, each company faces fundamental challenges beyond those related to scale, and I’ll address those below. Continue reading

Evaluating Hesse’s tenure at Sprint

With news today that Dan Hesse is being replaced as CEO of Sprint by Marcelo Claure , I thought it would be worth looking back at Hesse’s tenure as CEO.

An early opinion, from 2008

I dug out an old blog post from 2008 from a now-defunct blog I used to maintain, and it’s worth revisiting. This was just a few months into Hesse’s time as CEO of Sprint, and probably my first close-up encounter with him 1. I quote from that post:

Just got back from [a group] dinner with Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO, at CTIA here in Vegas… My first question was what he had learned about what had gone wrong at Sprint which had led it to the predicament it’s in today.

His main answer was that it ultimately all comes down to the merger with Nextel… The main issues stemmed from the fact that the merger was ultimately billed as, and contracted as, a “merger of equals” because the market valuations of the two companies were similar. This created huge problems, both in terms of the price paid and in terms of the structures and policies which flowed from that decision.

Firstly, in terms of the price paid, this led to massive synergy requirements to provide a return on investment. These synergy targets were overly ambitious and became the driving force for all the other targets at the company. The focus was therefore on massive cost-cutting, was very internal, and ignored external considerations, and especially considerations of customer care, churn and customer service, all of which suffered as a direct result.

The second problem was that the “merger of equals” narrative required an equitable distribution of various goodies after the merger concluded. This included seats on the board and in the senior management roles at the company, which were distributed equally between Sprint and Nextel. The split headquarters between Reston and Overland Park also resulted from this mentality. And it meant that no single unifying strategy led the company during that time, but rather it was constantly torn between the competing visions and philosophies of the people who had brought the two companies together.

From all this flowed the lack of focus on the important things, the over-focus on secondary considerations, and the mess Sprint is in today. Hesse is quickly changing all of this – one of his first moves was instituting greater accountability throughout the business (Gary Forsee had been the only person in the company with P&L responsibility before he left). And he has also made customer care, churn and other external metrics key to incentive structures and reporting throughout the business.

There is still a massive mountain to climb at Sprint, but Hesse certainly seems to have grasped the essential issues and made quick changes which should lead to the kind of turnaround that’s required. It remains to be seen whether the rest of the company can execute on his vision, but it certainly appears to be the right vision in many respects.

Consistent strategic priorities

To an extent that would become even clearer during the course of 2008, Hesse’s hands were tied to a great extent by the mistakes made by his predecessor. But he did the best he could with what he had to work with, and did an amazing job of turning the company around over the next few months and years. He established three key priorities for the company in those first few months, which he outlined at an analyst event I attended in May 2008 (again, quoting from that earlier blog):

Sprint has three clear strategic priorities: fixing the customer experience, establishing a clear brand in the market, and focusing on profitability. This clarity of purpose and focus on fundamentals is a good thing, and the key will be to execute on it without adding a raft of additional initiatives and programs over the coming months. Sprint needs to get the basics right before it gets distracted again.

One of the most impressive things about Hesse’s tenure is that he stuck to these three strategic priorities throughout it, and he reiterated these at the analyst event Sprint held in June this year. Fixing the customer experience, which had become so broken in the time after the Nextel merger, was priority number one, and Hesse made very rapid progress here, by looking at root causes of dissatisfaction and solving those one by one, leading both to increased satisfaction and a smaller call center footprint and staff. By October that year, Sprint was coming first in customer service surveys, a huge turnaround from last place two and a half years earlier. Under Hesse, Sprint transformed its customer experience and customer service, and this helped hugely in returning the company to growth and repairing a damaged brand.

Hesse also worked to personally fix the brand, appearing in commercials for the company to personalize his message of fixing the company and making Sprint great again. I’d argue that advertising was some of the most effective of any ads run by major US wireless companies over the last several years, and certainly Sprint’s most effective ad campaign of Hesse’s tenure. It led with Sprint’s new Simply Everything plan, which offered unlimited voice and data for $99.99, and was emblematic of a theme of simplification across Sprint’s business. Many calls to care involved questions about bills and overages, so Sprint simply moved to plans that were priced simply and didn’t incur overages. This built on Hesse’s history with price plan innovation, which he liked to point out started much earlier at AT&T, with the first 800 numbers, and later with the Digital One Rate plan at AT&T Wireless.

WiMAX – another albatross around Hesse’s neck

Continue reading


  1. Throughout his tenure, and throughout my time as an industry analyst, Hesse has been and remains one of the most accessible CEOs in the business, something I’ve been grateful for.

US Wireless market analysis Q1 2014

This analysis is based on the data from US wireless operators’ earnings for Q1 2014. You can see a set of data published previously here, or a fuller set of data on Slideshare here. The deck is also embedded below:


The US wireless market continues to be a game of four sets of players: AT&T and Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, Tracfone, and everyone else. The “everyone else” set is thinning out rapidly as more and more of the smaller regional carriers are snapped up by the bigger carriers, including Leap and MetroPCS in the last few months. Tracfone is included in the analysis here because it’s significant in scale, with as many prepaid subscribers as T-Mobile has postpaid subscribers, but of course its business model is entirely different as an MVNO. It is therefore excluded from a number of the comparisons below, either because they’re not meaningful or because Tracfone provides only limited data, as a subsidiary of America Movil. The revenues and total subscribers charts below are good illustrations of the scale differences between the three groups we’ll look at: Continue reading

Why Sprint – T-Mobile makes sense

There were rumors today – not for the first time – that Sprint might be interested in making a bid for T-Mobile. This is not all that surprising given recent remarks from T-Mobile execs and Dan Hesse that they would be open to a merger. But there’s been a predictable outcry about the possibility of the US’s three major carriers being whittled down to two, and especially about the presumed loss of T-Mobile’s recent disruptive approach to the industry.

There are several good reasons to take this view:

  • T-Mobile has indeed been disruptive, and has caused real change in the industry. Its shift away from 2-year contracts and towards easier, more frequent upgrades sparked the other major carriers to follow suit. It has won subscribers from Sprint and AT&T in particular as a result.
  • There’s an instinctive reaction to a reduction in the number of players in any industry, and it would follow years of consolidation in the US wireless market. It’s easy to argue that a market dominated by three players would be less competitive than one with four major players.
  • The US has a huge population, and it seems like it ought to be able to support four or more players without too many problems, given that there are other markets around the world with more players and much smaller populations.
  • The two carriers use incompatible network technologies. After Sprint has worked so hard to eliminate iDEN and WiMAX and focus on its core CDMA, EVDO and LTE networks, it would be a shame to complicate things by adding T-Mobile’s GSM-based networks to the mix. Given the focus on LTE this might be less complicated than it once was, but it’s still a non-trivial issue.

However, I think this knee-jerk reaction opposing any consolidation among the big four may be misguided, and here are the reasons. Continue reading