As the talk continue to swirl around the potential Softbank purchase of T-Mobile, one has to ponder why either company would want this to happen. When looking at the daunting task of combining two, virtually incompatible networks, the merger seems like a bad idea. When you add in the fact that T-Mobile is making money for the first time in forever, and Sprint still isn’t, it gets murkier. Then when you throw in the confusion of dealing with the FCC and the DOJ, both of whom have two additional mergers on their hands this summer, it just seems like the worst timing in history. That said, if it does come together, where will that leave the consumer?
If Softbank is able to purchase T-Mobile, there are three different scenarios that could play out. The first is that Softbank continues to operate 2 separate companies with the idea of merging their services someday. The second is that they immediately merge the two, create one rival network to Verizon and AT&T and begin the pricing battle. The final scenario is that Softbank will run a system similar to Straight Talk or Net10 and offer “Softbank Mobile” in the US. This would give consumers a choice of which carrier they want based on the devices that they choose. This is by far the weakest option, but honestly, it would be the best for the consumer.
For now, the entire process is up in the air and may or may not receive the DOJ or FCC’s blessing. Based on history and what is in front of them already this summer, the Sprint/T-Mo merger seems like a long shot at best this year. If it does happen, consumers shouldn’t feel much until the actual merger begins, which should be sometime in 2015.