T-Mobile Merges with Sprint: What This Means for You
What Changes for Current Customers?
Right now, not too much. Both T-Mobile and Sprint assured that all account management and plan options will stay the same, as integrating the two carriers will take place over the course of the next three years. Current customers can rest assured they don’t need to take any actions at the moment.
A key change that Sprint customers may already have noticed, is that roaming on T-Mobile’s LTE network is now enabled whenever you’re outside of Sprint’s 4G network. This is only available to customers with compatible phones.
Major changes that are expected to happen over the summer include:
- The rebranding of Sprint stores to T-Mobile
- The rebranding of Sprint communications and bills to T-Mobile
As for further into the future, the “New T-Mobile” has made some ambitious claims in reference to the increases in network capabilities within 6 years. These claims include:
- 4x increase in network capacity
- 8x increased network speeds within a few years—16x faster in 6 years
- 5G coverage for 99% percent of Americans
With 5G roll-outs having been in the works for the last few years, T-Mobile looks to take advantage of Sprint’s plentiful mid-band 2.5 GHz spectrum, which is much more powerful than T-Mobile’s existing low-band 600GHz spectrum. This will allow for a more reliable 5G network, as both technologies work together to address issues, such as data speed fluctuation and structural interference (i.e. walls and buildings).
Are There New T-Mobile/Sprint Phone Plans?
Not yet. For the next three years, customer phone plans will be the same as they were prior to the merger. That includes price, entertainment, travel features, and more. According to the New T-Mobile, customers could be looking at even cheaper prices in the future.
However, as the Sprint branding is phased out this year, Sprint plans may no longer be offered to new customers. We’re not totally sure if T-Mobile will get rid of all Sprint plans, or simply rebrand them as T-Mobile plans, but it’s possible. It has been promised, however, that existing Sprint customers can remain on their plans for at least three years, even if the plans are no longer available for new customers.
Will Sprint Phones be Compatible in the Future?
In short: it depends.
There is no guarantee that a phone purchased from Sprint will continue to operate once the merger has completed. Depending on the generation and model, customers may need to buy a new device that is compatible with the New T-Mobile network.
Generally speaking, Sprint phones are built for use with CDMA networks, while T-Mobile’s are built for GSM networks. This means that, by default, these phones will only work with their respective network-types, unless they have both GSM and CDMA functionality built-in (like many of the new iPhone and Android devices).
T-Mobile is aware of this concern and has hinted at changes to better integrate device compatibility with future releases (particularly with 5G capable phones).
What Does This Mean for the Industry?
While this is exciting news for the industry at its surface, many fear that excitement will quickly turn to disappointment as time goes on and the merger nears its final stages.
With half of the former “Big Four” effectively on the same team now, concerns surrounding price and decreased competition are surfacing, with experts foreseeing price hikes in the distant future. Fortunately, the terms of the merger guarantee no increases in pricing for at least three years, but there are no other pricing-restrictions beyond this timeframe.
Former T-Mobile CEO, John Legere, has stated that consumers will be met with “the same or better rate plans,” although skepticism continues to grow around such claims.
Dish Network Vows to Fill the Void
Despite concerns surrounding lack of competition, Dish Network has been quietly planting its roots in the cellphone industry, with goals of filling the void left by Sprint.
In fact, much of this merger’s approval with the FCC was contingent on Dish Network becoming a viable competitor— so much so that T-Mobile has agreed to allow Dish to use their network for seven years, while they build a 5G network of their own.
Dish Network has also purchased Boost Mobile from Sprint as part of the deal, giving them a small head start in terms of acquiring market share.
What about Metro by T-Mobile?
As it stands, Metro by T-Mobile will continue to operate as usual.