T-Mobile and Sprint Officially Call Off Merger

T-Mobile and Sprint today announced that plans for a merger have officially ended after the two companies were unable to find "mutually agreeable terms."

Rumors last week suggested the merger might be called off because Sprint parent company SoftBank was having doubts about the deal over the ownership terms. SoftBank was concerned about "losing control" of the combined company, as T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom wanted a controlling stake.


The two companies allegedly attempted to save the merger by negotiating new terms after Deutsche Telekom submitted a revised offer, but an agreement was not able to be reached.

In a statement, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said a that while a deal with Sprint was "compelling," it would have needed to offer "significant benefits" for both consumers and shareholders.
"The prospect of combining with Sprint has been compelling for a variety of reasons, including the potential to create significant benefits for consumers and value for shareholders. However, we have been clear all along that a deal with anyone will have to result in superior long-term value for T-Mobile's shareholders compared to our outstanding stand-alone performance and track record. Going forward, T-Mobile will continue disrupting this industry and bringing our proven Un-carrier strategy to more customers and new categories - ultimately redefining the mobile Internet as we know it. We've been out-growing this industry for the last 15 quarters, delivering outstanding value for shareholders, and driving significant change across wireless. We won't stop now."
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said Sprint had decided that it would be best to move forward alone. Sprint will instead aim to "compete fiercely" in the wireless industry.
"While we couldn't reach an agreement to combine our companies, we certainly recognize the benefits of scale through a potential combination. However, we have agreed that it is best to move forward on our own. We know we have significant assets, including our rich spectrum holdings, and are accelerating significant investments in our network to ensure our continued growth. As convergence in the connectivity marketplace continues, we believe significant opportunities exist to establish strong partnerships across multiple industries. We are determined to continue our efforts to change the wireless industry and compete fiercely. We look forward to continuing to take the fight to the duopoly and newly emerging competitors."
This is the second time that T-Mobile and Sprint have failed to reach a merger agreement. Sprint parent company SoftBank attempted to purchase T-Mobile back in 2013 in a deal worth more than $20 billion, but ultimately abandoned its plans in 2014 amid regulatory scrutiny.

Even had the deal succeeded this time around, it's not clear if it would have gained regulatory approval. Back in 2014, U.S. antitrust regulators said having four national carriers in the United States was important for maintaining a competitive market.


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Sprint and T-Mobile Merger Might Be Over Amid Fight for Control of Combined Company

Sprint parent company SoftBank may call off a planned merger between Sprint and T-Mobile, report Nikkei and Reuters.

SoftBank's board of directors is said to be having doubts about the deal due to a failure to reach an agreement about the ownership of the combined T-Mobile/Sprint entity. SoftBank is worried about "losing control" of the combined company, according to sources that spoke to Reuters.


Rumors suggest SoftBank could approach T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom as soon as Tuesday to end the talks. Deutsche Telekom wanted a controlling stake in the combined company, which SoftBank's board has ultimately decided not to agree to. T-Mobile is still attempting to keep the deal going, but Deutsche Telekom does not plan to budge on demands for control.

A T-Mobile and Sprint merger deal has been in the works since February of 2017, and as recently as September, the deal was said to be close to done as SoftBank and Deutsche Telekom worked out the final details. T-Mobile CEO John Legere was set to lead the combined company.

Should the deal ultimately fall through, it will be the second time Sprint and T-Mobile have failed to reach an agreement. Sprint parent company SoftBank attempted to purchase T-Mobile in a 2013 deal worth more than $20 billion, but SoftBank abandoned its plans in 2014 amid regulatory scrutiny.

Even if the deal progresses and SoftBank does not end the merger, it's still unclear if it will gain regulatory approval this time around. In 2014, U.S. antitrust regulators said having four national carriers was important to maintaining a competitive market.


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T-Mobile to Cap ‘Mobile Without Borders’ Feature at 5GB of LTE Data Per Month Starting November 12

T-Mobile this week quietly announced plans to tweak the way its "Mobile Without Borders" feature works, adding a 5GB data cap.

Introduced in 2015 as an Un-carrier initiative, Mobile Without Borders is a T-Mobile feature that's designed to extend LTE coverage and calling to Mexico and Canada at no additional charge. It was designed to use a customer's normal voice, message, and LTE data allotments while roaming in Mexico or Canada.


With an unlimited data plan, customers using Mobile Without Borders had access to "unlimited" 4G LTE data up to the standard cap of 50GB while in Canada or Mexico.

Starting on November 12, T-Mobile is limiting LTE data usage for Mobile Without Borders to a maximum of 5GB. After 5GB of data has been used in Mexico or Canada, or a high-speed data allotment has been reached, data speeds will be downgraded to Simple Global speeds (128kb/s for most T-Mobile plans, or 256kb/s for T-Mobile ONE Plus).

T-Mobile says that less than 1 percent of people who travel to Canada or Mexico use over 5GB in a month, and that the change is being implemented to "prevent usage beyond the intent of the product."

Customers who need more than 5GB of LTE data in Mexico or Canada can sign up for the T-Mobile ONE Plus International plan, which is an additional $25 per month on top of the cost of a T-Mobile ONE plan.


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T-Mobile Continues to Advertise Fastest 4G LTE Network Despite Verizon Complaint

T-Mobile plans to continue advertisements where it claims to have the fastest 4G LTE network in the United States despite complaints from Verizon and a recommendation to stop from the National Advertising Division (NAD), the company told Ars Technica in a statement today.

The National Advertising Division, which aims to review advertisements for truthfulness and accuracy to settle disputes without litigation, last week said the data T-Mobile used as proof for its fastest network claim was not sufficient.


T-Mobile used crowd-sourced data from Ookla and Open Signal to support its claim, with the data collected in early 2017 around when Verizon's unlimited data plan first rolled out. Verizon complained to the NAB and said the speed tests may have included data from Verizon customers who had been deprioritized for the first time after using over 22GB of data, making them inaccurate.

The NAD agreed that the tests may have had a bias in favor of T-Mobile and recommended T-Mobile stop all advertisements claiming to have the fastest network.

T-Mobile agreed to comply with the NAD's recommendation, but found a loophole with updated data. Instead of basing its claims on data collected earlier this year during the time that Verizon's unlimited data plan rolled out, T-Mobile now cites new OpenSignal and Ookla data on its website collected later in 2017. T-Mobile says it plans to continue on with its advertisements using the new data.
"On the fastest LTE network challenge, NAD ruled that the one month of crowd-sourced data we submitted (when Verizon launched their unlimited plan) could not be used," said T-Mobile Senior VP of corporate communications Janice Kapner. "NAD previously recognized third-party crowd-sourced data as a way to look at network performance, so we looked at the latest results, and verified what we already knew! T-Mobile is still the fastest LTE network and we'll continue to let consumers know that!"

"We did say we'd comply with NAD's recommendation, and we will, but that means we won't rely solely on the specific data we submitted. We have taken the NAD's concerns into consideration and are confident we have robust data that addresses them and proves, once again, that we have the fastest LTE network," a company spokesperson told Ars.
As T-Mobile says, the NAD recommendation only applies to data collected during the initial test cited in Verizon's complaint and not to the new data that's been collected. Verizon can submit a new complaint, though, which will require the NAD to again take a look at the data T-Mobile is using.


While T-Mobile plans to continue to say that it has the fastest LTE network, the company has agreed to modify some other claims about its coverage. The NAD looked at the following T-Mobile claims:

- T-Mobile has near-equivalent area and/or geographic coverage as Verizon
- T-Mobile covers 99% of the area covered by Verizon
- T-Mobile covers 313,312 or "311 Million and Counting" Americans with 4G LTE
- T-Mobile "covers 99% of the Americans that Verizon covers" and 99% of Verizon's customers

T-Mobile does cover 99.7 percent as many Americans as Verizon, but it does not offer 99.7 percent of the geographic coverage that Verizon offers, so the NAD recommended T-Mobile modify its advertising to make it clear that coverage comparisons are based on population. T-Mobile says it will comply with the request going forward and will remove ads featuring imagery of geographic coverage that could be confusing.


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T-Mobile and Sprint ‘Close’ to Finalizing Merger Deal, John Legere Said to Lead Combined Company

T-Mobile and Sprint are said to be "close to agreeing" to terms regarding a deal that would merge the third and fourth largest United States wireless carriers together. People close to the deal told Reuters that Sprint parent company SoftBank would own 40 to 50 percent of the combined company, while T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom will gain the majority stake.

The terms of the deal are expected to be finalized by the end of October, "though talks may still fall through," the two sources said. Previously, U.S. antitrust officials told Sprint that a merger with another wireless carrier would face intense scrutiny because having four major carriers in the U.S. was important to maintaining a competitive market. During those talks a few years ago the situation of the companies was reversed -- since T-Mobile had yet to gain in popularity -- with Sprint seeking to acquire T-Mobile for more than $20 billion.


Now, those concerns are said to come into play again with regulatory scrutiny expected to face any deal between Sprint and T-Mobile "over concerns that the U.S. wireless market is becoming too concentrated."
T-Mobile US Inc is close to agreeing tentative terms on a deal to merge with peer Sprint Corp, people familiar with the matter said, a major breakthrough in efforts to merge the third and fourth largest U.S. wireless carriers.

Once terms are finalized, due diligence by the two companies will follow and a deal is expected by the end of October, though talks may still fall through, the sources said.
If the merger happens, the resulting company would have revenues topping $70 billion and more than 130 million subscribers, falling in line behind the two other major U.S. carriers -- Verizon and AT&T -- in terms of subscribers.

The combined company would be led by T-Mobile CEO John Legere, according to the sources, thanks to T-Mobile outperforming Sprint under his leadership. The new company would also undertake a "massive" effort to cut costs early on.


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iPhone 8 and iPhone X Don’t Support T-Mobile’s Upcoming 600 MHz LTE Network

Apple's iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X are not compatible with LTE Band 71, aka T-Mobile's new 600 MHz spectrum the company plans on rolling out in the United States as soon as this year.

All new iPhone models in the United States support FDD-LTE Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, and 66, and TD-LTE bands 4, 38, 39, 40, and 41, according to the Tech Specs page for the devices.

Support for additional bands can't be added retroactively, so Apple's devices will not work with LTE Band 71 until support is added to future iPhones.


T-Mobile purchased the 600 MHz spectrum in an FCC auction in April of 2017. Shortly after, T-Mobile announced plans to use the spectrum to deliver 5G coverage starting in 2019, but later said it would use the spectrum to improve its network in rural America starting this year.

Unfortunately, by the time T-Mobile purchased the spectrum and announced plans for rapid implementation, the LTE chips and the hardware for the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X were likely already secured, giving Apple no time to build in support for a newly announced LTE band.


T-Mobile in August activated the first 600 MHz LTE site in Cheyenne, Wyoming and has said it will deploy the spectrum at a "record-shattering pace" with plans to roll out 600 MHz sites in Wyoming, Northwest Oregon, West Texas, Southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, Western North Dakota, Maine, Coastal North Carolina, Central Pennsylvania, Central Virginia, and Eastern Washington, but whether T-Mobile will hit that goal and get 600 MHz support in those locations by the end of 2017 remains to be seen.

As Peter Cohen points out, deploying the 600 MHz network is a complicated, time-consuming process that will span several years, so most iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X users won't be heavily affected by the lack of support for the new LTE band at this time.
Like every other carrier, T-Mobile is entirely dependent on a nationwide industry of independent cellular tower owners, operators and technicians to get their hardware deployed. Even if T-Mobile had unlimited funds to get a 600 MHz network up and running, there simply aren't enough people in the industry who can climb the towers, install the new hardware, test it and get it working for them. What we're talking about is a huge infrastructure effort that goes way beyond just flipping a switch and turning it on.
T-Mobile says Band 71 adds increased building penetration and covers greater distances. When used in metro areas, it improves in-building coverage, and in rural areas, it improves the company's LTE footprint.

There are no existing devices that support T-Mobile's new spectrum at this time. Like Apple's newest devices, for example, Samsung's Galaxy S8 and new Galaxy Note 8 do not offer support. T-Mobile has said that LG and Samsung will launch devices compatible with the spectrum by the end of the year, and LG's upcoming LG V30 will be one of the first devices to support it.

Related Roundups: iPhone 8, iPhone X
Tag: T-Mobile
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Buy Now)

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Apple Watch Series 3 Limited to 3G-Like Speeds on T-Mobile

Apple's new Apple Watch Series 3 models support LTE and UMTS connectivity, but on T-Mobile, LTE connection speeds won't be available. The carrier is limiting the Apple Watch to a maximum speed of 512kb/s, which is more like a 3G connection than an LTE connection.

The speed limitation is noted in T-Mobile's fine print, which says the maximum wearables speed is 512kb/s. It's also noted on the pre-order page when adding an Apple Watch Series 3 to your cart.


At issue is T-Mobile's ONE plan, which limits both tethering and all wearable devices to 512kb/s. While most users are unlikely to be streaming video or doing other tasks that require high connectivity speeds on the Apple Watch, the Apple Watch is also unlikely to be a data hog, so it's unclear why T-Mobile has this limitation in place.

No other major carrier in the United States, including Sprint, Verizon, or AT&T appears to be throttling Apple Watch speeds.

All four of the carriers are charging the same $10 per month fee to add an Apple Watch to an existing iPhone plan, and each one is offering a limited time promotion that waives monthly fees for the first three months.

The LTE Apple Watch Series 3 models became available for pre-order early this morning, with new devices slated to arrive on Friday, September 22, the official launch date for the device.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 3, watchOS 4
Tag: T-Mobile
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

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Apple Watch Series 3: LTE Plan Prices on Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Bell, EE, and Deutsche Telekom

Apple Watch Series 3 is available with built-in cellular capabilities, allowing you to make phone calls, send and receive text messages, stream music, get directions with Apple Maps, use Siri, and more without a paired iPhone.


The freedom comes at a cost, however, as Apple Watch Series 3 models with cellular are priced $70 higher than those with Wi-Fi and GPS only. Also, to access LTE, the watch must be added to your phone bill as an additional monthly charge.

Here's a breakdown of how much participating carriers plan to charge. Some carriers have yet to announce their plans.



Verizon


Verizon said it allow customers to add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $10 per month. Verizon will reportedly waive its $30 activation fee, and is offering the first three months of service for free. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via Verizon's NumberShare feature.

AT&T


AT&T has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $10 per month. AT&T is offering a $25 activation fee credit, and a $30 service credit for adding an Apple Watch, within three bills. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via AT&T's NumberSync feature.

T-Mobile


T-Mobile has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to a plan for $10 per month with AutoPay. T-Mobile will reportedly waive its $25 new SIM card kit fee, and is offering the first three months of service for free. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via T-Mobile's DIGITS feature.

Sprint


Sprint has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $10 per month. Sprint will also offer a special introductory three-month cellular plan trial. The carrier has yet to specify whether its activation fee of up to $30 per line will be waived as well, but it would seem likely.

Bell (Canada)


Bell has announced that customers will be able to add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for $5 per month. There is a one-time $10 activation fee. Bell will also offer a special introductory three-month cellular plan trial. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via Bell's NumberShare feature.

Bell will not support the Apple Watch's cellular capabilities in Manitoba or Saskatchewan due to the carrier's lack of VoLTE in those provinces.

EE (UK)


EE has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible SIM only or pay monthly plan for £5 per month, with the watch and iPhone sharing the same phone number. The carrier hasn't confirmed if it will be offering an introductory three-month trial, or if there will be an activation fee.

Deutsche Telekom (Germany)


Deutsche Telekom has announced that customers can add an Apple Watch to an eligible plan for up to €4.95 per month, with the first six months free of charge. The watch and iPhone share the same phone number via Deutsche Telekom's MultiSIM feature. The carrier didn't specify if there is an activation fee.



Apple Watch Series 3 models will be available to order starting tomorrow, September 15, at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time. In-store availability begins September 22. LTE-enabled models start at $399 in the United States.


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T-Mobile Offered Fastest LTE Speeds in the First Half of 2017

T-Mobile was the carrier with the fastest mobile network in the United States during the first half of 2017, according to a new U.S. Market Report for Mobile Broadband shared this morning by Ookla.

The carrier scored a 23.17 using Ookla's new "Speed Score" metric that combines low-end, median, and top-end performance for both upload and download speeds. Ookla says this is a comprehensive metric combining all factors that "matter to a good network experience" into a single score.

Coming in after T-Mobile was Verizon, with a Speed Score of 21.13, while AT&T came in third with a score of 20.05 and Sprint brought up the rear with a score of 15.39.


According to Ookla, T-Mobile's "tightly-spaced cell site grid" and smaller subscriber base gave it an edge over Verizon and AT&T, both of whom are dealing with higher traffic loads since their unlimited plans were introduced last year.

While Verizon has managed to deliver "consistent and reliable performance" across its network despite the unlimited plans, the rollout of AT&T's unlimited plans resulted in a "notable drop in performance."

Sprint, unsurprisingly, had the slowest mobile network with a Speed Score of 15.39, despite improvements made over the course of the last year. From June of 2016 to June of 2017, Sprint LTE speeds improved by 23.7 percent, but the carrier still can't match the big three.
T-Mobile comes out on top for overall speeds and acceptable speeds at a national level and provides the fastest service in 40% of the largest cities in the U.S. Verizon Wireless has the fastest service in many of the cities we looked at and comes in first on acceptable speeds in the top 100 CMAs, but we suspect their use of depriortization on unlimited could be bringing down their overall performance.

AT&T falls near the bottom in consistency of acceptable speeds and also saw a spoke in low end speeds in Q2 2017. The slowest carrier, Sprint, struggles with consistently providing acceptable speeds but saw big gains in the first half of the year.
While the above chart information covers the United States as a whole, Ookla also compared mobile performance data in the 100 most populated Cellular Market Areas within the country. The rankings were the same, but T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless were nearly neck and neck. Across the board, users in populated cellular markets see higher speeds.


Mobile performance by carrier varies greatly from area to area, so while T-Mobile may have the best overall network speeds, AT&T or Verizon could have a significant edge depending on where a user is located. All four carriers are aggressively pursuing improved LTE speeds and network expansion through spectrum purchases, refarming legacy spectrum (like ending 3G networks), network densification, relay solutions, and other techniques.

Across all carriers in the United States, there was a 19.2 percent increase in average mobile download speeds between the first half of 2016 and the first half of 2017, with an average speed of 22.69 Mb/s.


Average mobile upload speeds didn't see quite as much improvement, coming in at 8.51 Mb/s for a four percent improvement year over year. When it comes to average mobile download speeds, the United States is ranked 44th in the world. That rank drops down to 65th for average mobile upload speed. In rural areas, performance can be significantly worse, with speeds that are 20.9 percent slower than the nation as a whole. Verizon (51.6%) and AT&T (27.3%) have far more coverage in rural areas than T-Mobile (11.5%) and Sprint (9.6%).

In addition to looking at network performance by carrier, Ookla also shared some data on LTE speeds across carriers on two popular devices: the iPhone 7 and the Galaxy S7. On T-Mobile and Sprint, broadband speeds were on average slightly faster for the Galaxy S7, with little difference on Verizon and AT&T networks.

Both the iPhone 7 and the S7 see higher mobile network speeds than other devices because they aggregate three component carriers to improve peak and average speeds. On T-Mobile, Samsung has an edge because the Galaxy S7 enables features like higher order modulation and 4-Layer MIMO.


Ookla's report is based on data gathered from its popular Speedtest Intelligence benchmark during the first half of 2017. More than 3 million unique devices performed more than 14 million user-initiated cellular network tests, giving the company a lot of data to work with to figure out trends during the year. For the S7 and iPhone 7 comparison tests, data from 250,278 iPhones was collected and compared to data from 134,742 Galaxy devices.

Additional test results covering minimum acceptable experience, the impact of unlimited data, fastest carriers by city, and more can be read in the full report.


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T-Mobile ONE Family Plans Will Include Free Netflix Subscriptions Starting September 12

T-Mobile today announced that its T-Mobile ONE family plans will come with free Netflix subscriptions beginning September 12, allowing plan members to stream Netflix content at no additional monthly charge. To qualify, users will need two or more paid voice lines on a T-Mobile ONE family plan, and if customers already pay for a Netflix subscription, the un-carrier will cover the cost of the standard price: "meaning you’ll save nearly $120 every year."


This means that users who take advantage of the offer will get Netflix's $9.99/month, 2-screen subscription plan at no additional cost.

The company is calling the new addition "Netflix On Us," and described it as a way for T-Mobile to tackle "one of the biggest customer pain points" in mobile networking contracts, which is bigger bundles at increased prices. T-Mobile said that while other carrier bundles are about including some features users want and some they don't, with the end goal of increased monthly prices, Netflix On Us adds a service that most T-Mobile customers already use at no extra cost.
“The future of mobile entertainment is not about bolting a satellite dish to the side of your house or resuscitating faded 90s dotcoms. The future is mobile, over-the-top and unlimited,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. “While the carriers spend billions on their franken-strategies to cobble together carrier–cable–content mashups, the Un-carrier just leapfrogged them all by partnering with the best and giving it to customers at no extra charge. Because that’s what we always do. Give more to you without asking more from you.”

“This is the right move at the right time — for all the right reasons,” said Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix. “More and more fans are bingeing on mobile, so we’re bringing together Netflix’s award-winning TV shows and movies with T-Mobile’s award-winning, unlimited network.”
T-Mobile ONE customers with unlimited everything can also now add Netflix On Us, as well as customers with free lines from T-Mobile's recent "line-on-us" deals. To celebrate the new partnership, T-Mobile is launching a Twitter "meme-a-thon" tomorrow, September 7, where users will be able to enter to win smartphones, Netflix and T-Mobile swag, and BingeBoxes filled with "bingeing essentials" by responding to the company's Twitter account with Netflix show quotes, GIFs, and memes.


For more information about Netflix On Us, visit T-Mobile's website right here.


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