T-Mobile Batting For the Other Team? - The UpStream

T-Mobile Batting For the Other Team?

posted Sunday Mar 21, 2010 by Scott Ertz

T-Mobile Batting For the Other Team?

The network team at T-Mobile USA seems to be in the middle of an identity crisis. They know if they want to make it any longer in the highly competitive US market it will all be about data, which is something T-Mobile has sorely lacked in. As of today, their 3G network isn't really up and running completely while Sprint is launching more 4G markets every few months. T-Mobile has taken notice of this and started talks with Clearwire.

While you may not know the name you have most likely seen commercials for their work: Sprint's WiMax network. WiMax is the CDMA evolution into 4G which was a natural progression for Sprint seeing as their network has been CDMA since it was built. T-Mobile, on the other hand, is a GSM network which has its own evolution, called LTE. It would appear T-Mobile is considering switching teams, but in the opposite direction as Verizon, who is making the 4G switch from CDMA to LTE.

What does this mean for T-Mobile USA? No one quite knows for sure. What we do know is that T-Mobile, and majority shareholder Deutsche Telekom have had a lot of trouble making it since the conversion from VoiceStream years ago. They are now the smallest national network (formerly second smallest to Alltel) and the smallest subscriber base. Also, several months ago during a routine FCC investigation, it was discovered that Deutsche Telekom owns more of the company than they are legally permitted to own because T-Mobile operates wireless spectrum and they were given a set amount of time to lose the illegal shares.

Does this mean a possible partnership or buyout by Sprint? Sprint has been known to buy out failing networks to boost their own network (or hinder it in the Nextel case), and they have recently been on an MVNO buying spree (they now own Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Amp'd Mobile and Helio). Sprint also owns more than 50% of Clearwire, so any partnership with Clearwire would be a partnership with Sprint.

I made a prediction at a wireless event after AT&T purchased Bell South, and subsequently Cingular, that when the dust settles in the US market there will be 3 companies left standing - AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. As of now, T-Mobile is the only company still in the way of that prediction (with the recent demise of Alltel) and it looks like that might not be the case too terribly much longer.

What do you guys think? Will Sprint and T-Mobile join forces to create the oddest wireless logo in the industry or will T-Mo stick with their GSM heritage and eventually embrace LTE? Let us know in the comments section.

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