A massive shakeup in the wireless world could be in store for 2014.
Sprint is said to be mulling a potential bid for T-Mobile, a $20 billion deal that could chop the US carrier landscape from four major players to three.
According to the Wall Street Journal, No. 3 Sprint is currently feeling out regulatory concerns and may get the bid ball rolling in the first half of next year.
If Sprint-Mo (or T-int?) becomes a thing, the companies would have almost 53 million combined post-paid subscribers - the industry's most valuable customers. That number is still far behind Verizon's 95 million contracted souls and AT&T's 72 million.
Pros and calls
While a merger would certainly help Sprint and No. 4 T-Mobile take on Verizon and AT&T, the concern for consumers would be a dwindling of choice.
Competition drives down prices and gives us options like T-Mobile's Simple Choice plans, which have done away with contracts, and Sprint's unlimited data. There's no telling how a merger would change the carriers' services, but it could spell bad news for consumers.
T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom is reportedly interested in getting out of the US market, while Sprint majority owner SoftBank is led by an acquisition-hungry CEO. Execs from both companies have publicly argued a merger is needed to compete with Big Red and Ma Bell.
Even if Sprint makes an offer, antitrust officials would have to sign off. What's more, T-Mobile is said to be wary of a deal that could lead nowhere after AT&T's offer was shot down two years ago.
Still, the wireless world may be turned on its head if Sprint and T-Mobile join forces. Shudder.