Sprint-T-Mobile merger questions: Will regulators OK it? And, Legere as CEO?

Merger would create a larger No. 3 carrier, but number of nationwide carriers would fall from four to three

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Legere at T-Mobile has led a charge toward no contracts and other "un-carrier" moves that have forced Verizon and AT&T to respond. A more recent move by T-Mobile to reimburse new customers up to $600 to pay off their early termination fee (ETF) with another carrier gave T-Mobile an increase iof 2 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2014, even though it has cost the company in revenues.

Gold said if T-Mobile and Sprint combine, they would need to build more cell towers to improve their nationwide coverage to carry data and voice over their combined spectrum holdings. "T-Mobile has inferior coverage, making it sometimes hard to even get a connection, which is why they support Wi-Fi calling," said Gold, a T-Mobile customer.

In terms of new services that both consumers and business customers would want from a combined T-Mobile-Sprint, Gold suggested some of the same premium offers that AT&T and Verizon have announced, including services for machine-to-machine wireless communications, health, security, home and business automation, cars and specialty entertainment.

"They have to go upstream and provide premium services that people or businesses will pay good money for," he said. "That's their challenge."

Entner said a combined entity would create economies of scale to naturally result in better networks at lower costs.

"If you look at the track record of this industry, it's a fallacy that the big companies aren't as innovative as the small ones," Entner said. "There are economic pressures, and the people and companies who want to lead the market should be allowed to lead the market."

What about business customers?

Given their separate histories, will merging Sprint with T-Mobile make a difference for business customers?

Both AT&T and Verizon have more of the lucrative business accounts than either Sprint or T-Mobile, which could provide a growth opportunity for a combined entity.

However, Gartner analyst Bill Menezes said the proposed merger would have far more consumer benefits than it would for enterprises. Both companies target price-conscious, value customers for whom their current network insufficiencies aren't as important as they would be for corporate customers, who need consistent network robustness, coverage and reliability, he said.

"Combining Sprint and T-Mobile network and back office operations will be a complex, disruptive and expensive task," Menezes said. "There's no apparent benefit to corporate customers, including the many Sprint corporate customers who have weathered service disruptions during Sprint's recent Network Vision upgrades."

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