In response to questions from commissioners at the FCC, T-Mobile executives promised that, if the company successfully merges with Sprint, the combined company will not eliminate any of its prepaid brands.
T-Mobile currently operates the MetroPCS prepaid brand while Sprint operates the Boost and Virgin prepaid brands.
Further, the T-Mobile executives promised that a combined Sprint/T-Mobile, which executives have dubbed New T-Mobile, would also continue to encourage MVNOs to use its network.
And, in another interesting tidbit, the T-Mobile executives boasted that a combined Sprint and T-Mobile would “have sufficient capacity to offer an in-home product at a lower price than current offerings in over half of U.S. zip codes, bringing broadband choice to many consumers for the first time.” Those statements align with previous comments T-Mobile executives have made outlining the company’s plans to target the fixed wireless space (PDF) by providing in-home broadband internet services, if the company’s merger with Sprint is approved.
T-Mobile's newest promises were contained in a filing the company made with the FCC detailing a high-profile meeting among T-Mobile’s chief operating officer and other Sprint and T-Mobile executives and FCC officials.
During the meeting, Sievert conducted a lengthy presentation outlining the benefits he said would be derived from regulatory approval of a merger between the nation's third- and fourth-largest wireless network operators. Sievert reiterated many of the points that T-Mobile and Sprint have already laid out as they have sought regulatory approval for their transaction, but T-Mobile’s filing included specific commentary about the company's plans for its prepaid brands and its MVNO operations—comments made in response to questions from FCC officials.
“In response to a question, the executives stated that New T-Mobile will retain T-Mobile’s and Sprint’s current prepaid brands as they target different types of customers. Moreover, since New T-Mobile will be incentivized to fill its expansive capacity, it will offer attractive plans to MVNOs,” T-Mobile wrote.
That question, and the response, is a key new development in T-Mobile’s ongoing efforts to close its merger with Sprint. The effect of Sprint and T-Mobile's proposed merger on the MVNO and prepaid markets has grown into a major public discussion point. For example, the Department of Justice has reached out to the MVNO community as it reviews the proposed T-Mobile and Sprint merger. And the The National Wireless Independent Dealer Association has argued the transaction would stand as a “devastating blow” to prepaid customers, MVNOs and wireless dealers.
To be clear, the MVNO and prepaid market is just one of several elements that regulators likely are considering as they decide whether to approve the companies’ merger. Other issues likely under discussion include spectrum divestitures, foreign ownership and jobs.