Things are about to get interesting in the wireless carrier space; the FCC has just approved a proposed merger between T-Mobile and MetroPCS.

In terms of subscribers, T-Mobile is currently fourth in the U.S., while MetroPCS comes in at number six. The combined company, which would operate under the T-Mobile brand, would join together to create a customer base of around 42.2 million, which still trails other carriers significantly. AT&T Mobility boasts 107 million customers, with Verizon Wireless and Sprint claiming 98.2 million and 55.6 million, respectively.

Still, the merger will put the new company within arm’s reach of Sprint, the third-largest carrier in the country. And with rumors abound that T-Mobile will soon add the iPhone to its lineup, the company could stop the subscriber bleeding and perhaps even add new customers. Much of the blame for T-Mobile’s shrinking customer base has been placed on the lack of the iPhone, which is available on AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint, as well as prepaid providers like Cricket and Virgin Mobile.

The wireless carrier space is in need of a shake-up, and a newer, slightly-more-powerful T-Mobile might be able to do it. There hasn’t been a lot of movement with the prices of voice and data plans, and perks like unlimited data on most carriers (other than Sprint) have vanished. The carriers seem to be a bit too comfortable in their current positions, which is why the FCC’s approval of the T-Mobile/MetroPCS merger makes a lot of sense. If a solid #4 can threaten #3, then #3 will feel more compelled to compete for the second spot, and so on.


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It’s important to note that AT&T previously tried to acquire T-Mobile back in 2011, which would have made AT&T even larger. The United States Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to block the transaction, and AT&T abandoned its efforts. That the T-Mobile/MetroPCS merger went through shows that the government believes it will be good for competition, and the FCC said as much in a statement released today.

With today’s approval, America’s mobile market continues to strengthen, moving toward robust competition and revitalized competitors. We are seeing billions more in network investment, while the courts have upheld key FCC decisions to accelerate broadband build-out, promote competition, and benefit consumers, including our broadband data roaming and pole attachment rules. Today’s action will benefit millions of American consumers and help the U.S maintain the global leadership in mobile it has regained in recent years.

What’s your opinion on the merger? Do you think it’s good for wireless competition? Tell us below.

 


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