As the trial to prevent the T-Mobile/Sprint merger entered its third day, at least one analyst cut the odds for a successful merger.
A coalition of 13 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit to prevent the third and fourth-place carriers from merging, despite both the FCC and DOJ signing off on the deal. In the first day of the trial, documents came to light highlighting a Sprint executive’s belief that the merger would result in higher prices for consumers—one of the main reasons the states are objecting to the merger.
According to Barron’s, after the first couple of days of testimony, Raymond James analyst Ric Prentiss has lowered the odds of the wireless carriers winning their case from 85 percent to a mere 55 percent. One of the biggest factors is the challenge of propping up Dish Network as a viable 5G competitor. Critics of the deal have made the case that going from four major carriers to three would stifle competition and hurt the market. As a result, T-Mobile and Sprint agreed to sell assets, including Sprint’s prepaid business, to Dish Network in an effort to help it move beyond satellite TV service and become a viable wireless competitor. So far, however, that has been a more difficult sell than anticipated, leading Prentiss to issue his report.
As Barron’s goes on to highlight, Sprint will be the big loser in the event the merger fails, as it has not demonstrated an ability to profitably continue on its own. T-Mobile, on the other hand, is leading the industry in earnings and subscriber growth, and will likely continue just fine on its own. It will, however, need to acquire additional 5G spectrum if the deal should fall through, as it was planning on using Sprint’s ample spectrum to build out the mid-range portion of its 5G network. T-Mobile activated its low-band, long-range 5G network on December 2. Meanwhile, it continues to build out its mmWave, high-speed, short-range network in multiple cities. Sprint’s spectrum would have been ideal as the mid-range bridge. If the deal is blocked, T-Mobile will need to acquire replacement spectrum to bridge the gap between its low-band and mmWave networks.
With so much at stake, industry analysts, executives, experts and consumers are eagerly watching to see if T-Mobile and Sprint can win their case. In the meantime, we will continue to provide updates as the case develops.