How Sprint Sale Could Affect You
Like college students on spring break, U.S. wireless companies are aggressively trying to hook up. On Oct. 3, T-Mobile and prepaid carrier MetroPCS announced plans to merge. And today (Oct. 15), Japanese wireless company Softbank announced plans to buy 70 percent of Sprint.
Both deals have to receive government approval. But if they both go through, only the T-Mobile and Metro PCS deal is likely to do much for customers, said Eddie Hold, a vice president with analyst firm NPD. That deal will bring a lot more phone choices to MetroPCS customers very soon and a better high-speed network in about three years. [SEE ALSO: BYO iPhone to T-Mobile]
The main thing that the Sprint deal will do is shore up a company that's been losing lots of money in the past few years. That's not inconsequential to customers in a contract who may be worried about being tied to a money-losing company. And the deal will help Sprint to keep rolling out the high-speed LTE wireless service that Verizon and AT&T are also using for new smartphones (including the iPhone 5).
But otherwise, Sprint will continue to pretty much work as it has. Even with more money, it's in no shape to buy T-Mobile, said Hold, and extremely unlikely to get government approval if it tries. (AT&T's attempt to buy T-Mobile was rejected by the government, and Sprint was one of the main parties arguing against it.)
And Softbank, the third-largest wireless company in Japan, is unlikely to bring over any cool Japanese wireless tech, such as better mobile banking or NFC wireless chips to make purchases by swiping a phone. After all, U.S. carriers and phone makers have already been trying to push such tech, with little success.
What you can expect is for this deal to keep things as they are: a country with the same four big carriers we've had for years.