Well this is slightly unexpected. After reporting yesterday that T-Mobile is to acquire urban contract-free carrier MetroPCS, today’s rumors suggest that Sprint may be considering a counteroffer to prevent MetroPCS from falling into T-Mobile’s grasp. From a technology standpoint, since Sprint and MetroPCS both utilize CDMA technology (T-Mobile is a GSM carrier), Sprint would be able to utilize the purchase assets with a shorter timeframe and without completely replacing MetroPCS’s network equipment.
“It would make sense for Sprint to look at MetroPCS,” said Tom Burnett, director of research at Wall Street Access, an investment firm in New York. “The networks are compatible and that might make it easier.”
While all three companies have declined to comment on the matter, it comes as a little bit of a surprise that Sprint is suddenly interested in MetroPCS after acquisition talks were rejected earlier this year. Sprint’s sudden reinterest may be purely strategic, since the combined T-Mobile and MetroPCS would be considerably closer and more well positioned to take over the number three slot among the four major nationwide carriers.
Deutsche Telekom isn’t likely to back down, however. If the merger is indeed a strategic move to slowly back out of the U.S. market, DT will likely improve their terms with MetroPCS if it looks as though the latter will choose Sprint instead. Someone “familiar with the matter” agrees with my assessment according to Business Week’s source.
Still, this is just a rumor. If Sprint acquires MetroPCS, it’s unclear what – if any – impact that may have on the prepaid market. Until official statements have been made, it’s still looking likely that T-Mobile and MetroPCS are on track to become one unified front against Sprint and other competitors.