Sprint, T-Mobile holding informal merger talks again: Report

The wireless market could consolidate from four big players to three, if regulators allow it.

Sarah Tew

SoftBank-owned Sprint has begun informal talks to merge with T-Mobile US, according to Bloomberg. The two mobile carriers had previously held merger talks in 2014, but the deal fell through after regulatory concerns.

Bloomberg reported talks between Sprint and T-Mobile are preliminary and no banks have been hired, yet. There's also belief T-Mobile, the fourth-largest carrier in the US, could be acquired by a cable company looking for a way into the mobile market.

A quiet period from a recent government spectrum auction prohibited mobile carriers from holding negotiations over the last year. It ended on April 27, opening up the potential for mergers once again.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere recently said a Sprint merger could be a "a potential future outcome" as the regulatory environment has softened under President Trump and the new head of the FCC.

Reuters reported in February that SoftBank could give up control of Sprint and retain a minority stake in T-Mobile, to entice T-Mobile into a merger. Sprint is looking for more steam in the US, as T-Mobile's UnCarrier initiative has resonated with customers.

"We may buy, we may sell. Maybe a simple merger, we may be dealing with T-Mobile, we may be dealing with totally different people, different company," SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son said earlier this year.

Industry watchers have said a Sprint/T-Mobile merger could face severe regulatory scrutiny.