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Amazon interested in buying Boost from T-Mobile, Sprint: sources (reuters.com)
122 points by Geeek 52 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 85 comments



Sprint has been hemorrhaging money and customers for years. I have no idea why this merger is being fought. It’s not like Sprint is a real competitor.

But back on topic: Boost is just an MVNO running on Sprint’s CDMA network. What worse combination of technology can you have than being on Sprint’s network and CDMA?


I'm not a fan of Sprint and I don't think they provide a lot of competition in the industry, but...

Sprint hasn't been hemorrhaging customers. Between 2007 and now, Sprint has basically stayed flat at 54M customers in 2007, hitting a low of 48M customers in 2010, peaking at 60M customers in 2016, and back down to 54M customers today. http://tinyurl.com/carriertotals - this hasn't been updated in a while, but it's clear to see that Sprint has just been pretty steadily mediocre.

I think the merger is being fought because it's really hard to introduce a new wireless carrier. There's a limited amount of spectrum and as high-bandwidth applications take root, the barrier to entry increases. There's no only the inertia of customers and the normal barriers that companies have, but the hard barrier of not having spectrum.

Likewise, even when you're doing stellar, it's hard to make a dent in the distance between you and other companies. T-Mobile has been doing amazing things since current management took over in 2013. Still, despite T-Mobile basically getting all the industry growth over the past 6 years, they're a distant third to AT&T and Verizon. If someone were to launch a new carrier, it would likely take a decade or two before it started really making a difference.

It's also hard to say how much, if any, competitive pressure Sprint is putting on the industry. Sprint had been offering a free year of service (a $2,000 value for a family of 4) and had few takers. They've been offering $25/mo unlimited service for life (for a single line) and had few takers despite being less than half the price of competitors. When T-Mobile (re)introduced unlimited, Verizon and AT&T were forced to do the same. When Sprint makes moves, no one pays attention. However, if Sprint weren't there, would prices go up? It's certainly possible.

Similarly, it's unclear how long Sprint can hold on financially. They haven't been doing great and they'll need to make a large 5G investment in the coming years as their debt payments mount. However, Sprint has hung on for a long time under mediocre finances.

I think there's definitely the idea in many people's head that Sprint could team up with someone other than T-Mobile to provide a rejuvenated 4th carrier. However, the economies of scale and debt that Sprint has don't provide a lot of good options. Cable companies are likely to be hesitant to buy what is a losing business with crippling debt. If the deal doesn't go through, Sprint's market cap is likely to shrink and it's unlikely that SoftBank (Sprint's majority owner) would want to sell at that low valuation and it's unlikely that cable companies (or anyone else) would want to offer a premium. That kinda creates an impasse.

I think it's unlikely that Sprint could get a different partner on terms that SoftBank would accept. SoftBank drove a hard bargain and T-Mobile was willing to pay a premium for Sprint because they'd get the economies of scale one gets from 130M customers and one network. Would SoftBank be willing to accept half of what they'd be getting from T-Mobile? Probably not. "Half" might sound extreme, but it's also probably accurate. The deal is probably worth $38B to SoftBank conservatively assuming that the combined company is worth 20% more together than separately. Before the merger talk started back up, Sprint was worth $20B and that's when there was still the possibility of a merger, just no concrete talks. If a merger with T-Mobile is definitively dead, Sprint would probably sink below that - I'd say a 20-30% drop below that seems likely. So, without the T-Mobile merger, Sprint's market value goes so low that I don't see SoftBank being willing to stomach the loss. In fact, SoftBank bought into Sprint at a valuation of $28B. If they sold to anyone other than T-Mobile, they'd have to lock in a substantial loss.

Again, I tend to agree with your position, but I can also see why people really want to believe in a 4th competitive carrier. Losing competition isn't great. Yep, Sprint doesn't really seem competitive, but there is still that hope they might be competitive someday. Maybe someday they'll find a partner that will rescue them, maybe someday they'll find magic technology that will make them better.

"Maybe someday" could be the story of Sprint since the Nextel merger. Maybe someday Sprint will get broad coverage having acquired the low-band spectrum in the Nextel deal. Maybe someday WiMAX will rule the world. Maybe someday LightSquared will give Sprint an amazing LTE network. Maybe someday Sprint will buy Clearwire and use its deep spectrum to create the best experience. Maybe someday SoftBank will make Sprint amazing like their Japanese network. Maybe someday HPUE will magically make their 2.5GHz spectrum better. Maybe someday massive-MIMO will make their LTE network offer gigabit speeds everywhere.

But "maybe someday" still offers hope. While Sprint is independent, there's still hope that wireless could become a true 4-competitor market in the US. Once Sprint is gone, that hope is (mostly) gone.

(Also, Boost is an MVNO on Sprint, but if this deal goes through, it would be an MVNO on T-Mobile. So, any objection to the technology or current network situation isn't really important. The Boost MVNO would be running against T-Mobile's network as customers handsets allow and as customers upgrade.)


They don't want Sprint or CDMA. They want whatever contract is in place that allows Boost to be a T-Mobile MVNO. If I had to guess, the contract also has a renewal clause that allows Boost to renew the MVNO agreement further into the future than 5-6 years, at reasonably favorable terms whether tmobile wants to keep them or not, barring any major malfeasance.


Correction: Boost is not a T-Mobile MVNO, it's a Sprint MVNO. I think Amazon wants assurances that the terms Boost has with Sprint will carry over to the new T-Mobile/Sprint entity.


Yeah, regarding the merger I’d rather have T-Mobile as a larger and stronger competitor against AT&T and Verizon.


> Yeah, regarding the merger I’d rather have T-Mobile as a larger and stronger competitor against AT&T and Verizon.

Counterargument: T-Mobile has been bleeding users hard off AT&T (the only US carrier to be declining in all sectors). Churn is low and postpaid adds are the highest in the industry. They have proven they do not require a merger to be successful.


T-Mobile has shown that they can be an effective mobile competitor to AT&T. However, it's unclear how long that can last. With 5G, home broadband and entertainment is likely to come into play in a huge way.

Let's fast-forward 3-10 years to a 5G world where we ditch cable companies and get pay-TV, home broadband, and mobile from a single company. AT&T and Verizon have deep millimeter-wave spectrum holdings. T-Mobile is likely trying to acquire more, but they're at a large deficit that might make 5G much harder for them. Likewise, Verizon and AT&T both have established pay-TV businesses they can leverage toward a 5G home broadband and 5G pay-TV future. Heck, AT&T bought Time Warner knowing how important this would be. T-Mobile knows this is going to be important and is making investments, but they're smaller with a smaller customer base.

T-Mobile's size and lack of ownership gives them little power in negotiations with direct competitors. Comcast will drive a hard bargain for their content as T-Mobile looks to replace their wired connections. AT&T has little reason to offer a good deal to their direct competitor. Even independents have little reason to offer a good deal because T-Mobile's smaller customer base leaves them in a weaker negotiating position.

Likewise, AT&T and Verizon have a lot of revenue to invest in a big home broadband play compared to T-Mobile. They also have large customer bases to up-sell home broadband to. AT&T has already shown that bundling can be a big deal. If AT&T starts offering home internet as a $30-add-on for their mobile plans, that creates a lot of lock-in. Not only could that make it hard for T-Mobile to break into the industry, but it could even kill off T-Mobile's mobile growth and start customers flowing back to AT&T for an attractive bundle.

Again, AT&T has the millimeter-wave spectrum, the content ownership, the fiber network and internet backbone, the large customer base to up-sell, lots of TV experience, local installation technicians from DirecTV, etc. What does T-Mobile have to compete with this? Well, better management and maybe a more trusted brand. Given AT&T's content ownership, they could really provide a compelling bundle that might be hard to compete with for a smaller carrier. Verizon is large enough that they have enough power and they already have most of the other advantages AT&T has.

So, yes, T-Mobile has been doing well. Will they continue to do well? Are we at a point where the industry is changing to not-just-mobile? Have we created a great competitor for what consumers are looking for between 2013 and 2022, but aren't looking to what consumers will demand past 2022?

Heck, Cingular and AT&T Wireless merged and spent a huge amount of time and effort creating a reliable 2G voice network...just to see the industry shift off of voice. I think T-Mobile has done amazing things, but it's definitely possible that industry shifts over the next 5-10 years will provide new challenges for T-Mobile. Do we have a great competitor for the next couple years, but a duopoly as the industry shifts after that? T-Mobile has "proven they do not require a merger to be successful" in mobile wireless. That might not be enough going forward.


AT&T has almost twice as many customers as T-Mobile.


> AT&T has almost twice as many customers as T-Mobile.

Your point being? T-Mobile has been gaining customers from them for years now. They've had something like 23 or 24 consecutive quarters with over 1M net subscriber adds. No other carrier has been able to match that pace.


For damn good reason too. Going from a family bill of $300 on ATT to half that on TMobile is a no brainer. Especially for the people who’s spend the majority of their time at home on WiFi!


As a US resident temporarily living in Europe, that’s still crazy. A SIM-only plan that costs $75/mo in the US on T-Mobile is about $20/mo or less in the EU.

I wish they’d stop going for “greater value” and instead just offer lower prices.


It’s not an effective way to compete in the US, where most subscribers live outside city limits and coverage is king. (That’s why Verizon is #1 even though it’s the most expensive.) To put things into perspective, the Munich metro area is about the same population as DC’s, but twelve times as dense. Wiring up the urban areas hits almost all your potential subscribers in Munich. (Last time I went, the area between the airport and the city was countryside and had no LTE. The fastest growing part of the DC Metro area is an exurb close to the airport, an hour outside the city.) T-Mo has struggled with LTE coverage outside the cities. At the same time it’s expensive to build cell towers all through the suburbs and exurbs. So the winning play is not necessarily doubling down on the cities and pushing down cost. Americans are willing to pay for coverage (and on the flip side, will punish you in the market for not pursuing coverage).


What’s the Data cap? I bought a Vodafone sim in Europe and it was €20 for 1GB. There were people outside complaining they turned their phone on and hit the data cap within a couple minutes. The 1GB barely lasted a day using google maps to find my way around and that was after I turned off a lot of apps like email and such.


You're doing something very wrong. I spent 9 days in Scotland and used less than 8GB of data from a Vodafone SIM I picked up for a similar price. My phone was in hotspot mode then entire time sharing the data with 3 others phones and a couple tablets.

Also if you're using Google Maps then I strongly consider you cache offline map data as it will dramatically reduce your data consumption as it's updated via Wifi automatically.

* It occurs to me that you might have been using Satellite view. Don't that's a huge waste of data. The traditional maps view is vector data (i.e. tiny) where as satellite photography consumes a lot of data.


There were people outside complaining they turned their phone on and hit the data cap within a couple minutes.

Not one of them wondered what the hell their phone is doing to continuously max out the modem's bandwidth until the data runs out? Regardless, I don't use the work WiFi, stream music a lot of the day, and it still takes a week or two to burn 1GB. IOW, something doesn't sound quite right, like they shorted you on the data?


>"What worse combination of technology can you have than being on Sprint’s network and CDMA?"

Please explain why CDMA is so bad. Your post is devoid of any technical details for such an assertion. CDMA has a number of advantages over GSM that informed Verizon decision to go with it in the first place. Advantages of CDMA include operating very well in noisy environments, soft hand offs, and better spectrum utilization(frequency hopping)which allowed unlimited subscribers per cell.

Verizon, who as much as I dislike them as a company has one the best networks in the US in terms of both call quality and coverage.


And Verizon is shutting down their CDMA network at the end of the year. It's an old technology that is being sunsetted. The problem with Sprint is that they are still relying on it for far too much (and they don't have broad enough spectrum holdings to make dual networks work well).

Additionally, a lot of Sprint's rural coverage relies on Verizon CDMA roaming -- which will be going away as Verizon sunsets their network.


>The problem with Sprint is that they are still relying on it for far too much (and they don't have broad enough spectrum holdings to make dual networks work well)."

Sprint has a crazy amount of 2.5GHZ spectrum holdings. They are already deploying that with Massive MIMO to move everything to LTE Advanced.


> Sprint has a crazy amount of 2.5GHZ spectrum holdings.

Which gets stopped by walls and wet leaves. It's great if you're in line of sight of a tower and own a device that supports HPUA (high-powered uplink).

If both aren't true your experience will be less than optimal as the phone will have to fall back to band 25 and band 26 LTE which still isn't being provisioned on 15mhz or 20mhz. This means the fallback frequencies will congest easier. In most markets because Sprint either lacks the spectrum to go wideband or needs to use it for legacy CDMA2k since they only support voLTE on like 4 high-end phone models.....


>"Which gets stopped by walls and wet leaves. It's great if you're in line of sight of a tower and own a device that supports HPUA (high-powered uplink)."

Which is why they are combining it with their 800MHZ spectrum from the old Nextel iDEN service. 800MHZ can pretty much punch through anything.


They do not use carrier aggregation between band 25/26 and 41.

There is not enough spectrum to run band 26 on more than 5mhz in most markets. This means it is slow and congests easily. The rest is used to support CDMA2k clients. As the parent post said, they don't have enough spectrum to run a proper dual network.

The stopgap solution at this time is to get a Magicbox[1] from sprint that will grab band 41 signals from outside and relay it as a new tower on band 25 or 26. Then the phone will just fall back onto 1X for calls.

[1]https://business.sprint.com/magic-box/


I didn't say they used carrier aggregation. All of their macro cells are going to be converted to tri-band - 800MHz, 1.9GHz and 2.5GHz.


That, and they haven't rolled out band 41 in most of there service area.


Yes, they are deploying LTE in that spectrum, not CDMA.


But you’re also stuck with a phone that doesn’t work anywhere else. When you get into the boondocks when you are downgraded from their LTE network to their CDMA network you get much slower data than when you are downgraded from LTE to GSM.


CDMA networks are going away. As I pointed in another comment Verizon(the largest CDMA carrier) is sunsetting their CDMA network at this end of this year and aren't even allowing activation of CDMA only phones. There won't be any 3G to be downgraded to.


Boost also uses Sprint's LTE network.


Which doesn’t help because you still need a CDMA capable phone. That automatically means you both have fewer choices of phone on the network and most of the phones you get don’t work on GSM networks.

That also means it downgrades to a much slower network than GSM.


You shouldn't need a CDMA phone for an LTE network, unless it doesnt support VoLTE, which Sprint uses.

Fallback to 2G/3G networks in areas without LTE is another issue though.

"CDMA" isn't slower than "GSM". That being said, those terms are very ambiguous. For example, the GSM (2G) group also came up with the UMTS (3G) standard, which uses W-CDMA. So, most "GSM" carriers were using a variant of CDMA a decade ago. Traditional "CDMA" carriers also saw improvements with CDMA2000 (aka 1xEVDO) and other enhancements.


> You shouldn't need a CDMA phone for an LTE network, unless it doesnt support VoLTE, which Sprint uses.

But you absolutely do on Sprint. There's only a handful of models (iphone XS models and Samsung S8 and variant models) that support voLTE on Sprint in a handful of markets. There's also some USCC roaming areas supporting voLTE. I am unsure if that allows for more models.

CDMA2000's 3G technologies are slower. None of the proposed improvements were rolled out stateside. Sprint/Verizon rolled EV-DO RevA topping out at around 2-3mbps on a good day. To contrast: HSPA+ was rolling with 21mbps and 42mbps peak downlink in markets (AT&T and T-Mobile)


While Sprint does not maintain a device list on their site detailing supported technology, one is maintained on Reddit ahowing just how small the voLTE list is: https://www.reddit.com/r/Sprint/wiki/deviceinfo

There is also the insane list of SIM card types for people bringing their own devices onto the network (not just physical size, the company couldn't standardize on sim card features for the network): https://s4gru.com/forums/topic/7833-the-s4gru-byod-sim-compa...


Comcast's Xfinity Mobile allows non-CDMA iPhones on its network (through Verizon). They will only connect to Verizon's LTE network and is unable to access its CDMA network.

I suspect Boost could do the same.


Which is also not a great thing when you travel outside of major cities.


Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint each have more LTE coverage than 3G/CDMA. (AT&T is the exception with more 3G coverage)

Source: https://www.whistleout.com/CellPhones/Guides/sprint-coverage...


I agree that they have more coverage in aggregate but when you go out into the boondocks. You don’t get LTE. That “1%” makes a difference in rural areas.


> I agree that they have more coverage in aggregate but when you go out into the boondocks. You don’t get LTE. That “1%” makes a difference in rural areas.

For Sprint this is the case that they are relying on 1X to cover the sticks with 800mhz)

T-Mobile had to build a fairly dense network with towers broadcasting 1900mhz GSM back in the day. They had less spectrum and it was mostly mid-band (1900 and AWS).

T-Mobile can now broadcast 600mhz and 700mhz in most markets LTE-only. So uh yeah, rural markets you would only receive LTE or nothing. AWS and 1900 doesn't propagate as far nor does it penetrate obstacles like the low band does.


I actually cited a source above that Sprint alone has more LTE coverage than 3G coverage. The same is also true for T-Mobile.


I’m not disagreeing that they have more. I’m saying that when you are stuck without LTE in the boondocks. You’d much rather fallback to GSM/HSDPA than CDMA.


Why would you need to fall back if there is more LTE coverage than 3G/CDMA coverage?


> Why would you need to fall back if there is more LTE coverage than 3G/CDMA coverage?

More LTE coverage than 3G doesn't mean the LTE coverage area is a superset of the 3G coverage area, as long as there is any 3G coverage area that doesn't have LTE coverage, you might benefit from fallback to avoid no coverage.


What's wrong with CDMA?

I mean, the technology is used in most current wireless standards, so the complaint has to be that you can only use phones that are compatible with Sprint and the largest wireless network in the US?


GSM is a global standard that lets you use any phone just by putting in a sim. CDMA is not widely supported outside of the US. But even worse, CDMA is slow compared to GSM (HSDPA).


>"But even worse, CDMA is slow compared to GSM (HSDPA)"

You can't compare CMDA and HSDPA. GSM and CDMA are 2G/3G technologies that support both voice and data. HSDPA is data only and commonly known as 3.5G. It was a stop gap until 4G. CDMA had EV-DO rev B as its 3.5G although most CDMA carriers skipped it in favor of just rolling out LTE.

Lastly LTE(also a standard) phones all have SIM cards. And with Voice Over LTE the "GSM is superior CDMA" discussion is just plain silly. Case in point Verizon is retiring its CDMA network at the end of this year.[1]

[1] https://www.verizonwireless.com/support/knowledge-base-21881...


Like pretty much every term that consumers hear in wireless, what people mean when they say CDMA varies. The underlying Code-Division Multiple Access method that the OP refers to is a general principle of operation and not a standard. It is also used by HSDPA and LTE. The specific standard that was mostly a US thing and even then specific carriers is CDMA2000, which is a specific standard like HSDPA.


> The underlying Code-Division Multiple Access method that the OP refers to is a general principle of operation and not a standard. It is also used by HSDPA and LTE

> and LTE

i thought LTE used OFDMA


Yes, LTE does use OFDMA. The 3GPP UMTS and HSPA standards both used W-CDMA, which is probably what GP was thinking about.


Sure, I have a GSM phone partly because I like that the hardware is less tied to the account. Of course, I also had to buy a nano SIM when I bought a new phone, but whatever.

On the other hand, I don't think this is a particularly popular concern. It certainly doesn't concern a large share of wireless customers in the US (they are using the Verizon...).


GSM is a 2G standard [0]. Modern phones are pretty hard to put into a single bin. They often support 2G (GSM[TDMA]/CDMA/GPRS/EDGE, etc), 3G (UMTS[W-CDMA]/CDMA2000/EDGE/HSPA, etc), and 4G (LTE/OFDMA/WiMax, etc).

A modern US iPhone or Android phone is perfectly capable of moving between every major carrier on every technology (its almost always LTE anyways). Every major US carrier uses SIM cards.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GSM "The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) is a standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to describe the protocols for second-generation (2G) digital cellular networks used by mobile devices such as mobile phones"


FWIW I once had a global Verizon feature phone that was dual GSM/CDMA and had a Verizon SIM.


> What worse combination of technology can you have than being on Sprint’s network and CDMA?

You can just stack even more shit on the shit: it's branded as Google Fi and requires a modified firmware and app to hand off the calling layer between Sprint or T-Mobile.

(EDIT: The shit I'm referring to are carrier application/backdoors like this, without them the phone will not work on network: https://gist.github.com/thestinger/171b5ffdc54a50ee44497028a... )

Also note, nothing like that is required for a phone on any other US carrier, just Fi and Sprint are special.


I have no idea why this merger is being pursued. Take away Boost and Sprint's spectrum allocation, they have nothing left to bring to the table, aside from 50 customers and a shit network. What's the appeal there?


Unlike what Sprint did when it bought Nextel, when T-mobile bought MetroPCS, it rapidly shit down MetroPCS’s network and integrated it with its own. MetroPCS wasn’t just an MVNO. I would think T-mobile would do the same with Sprint.


> I would think T-mobile would do the same with Sprint.

You would think but consider this: Sprint is a MUCH larger network than MetroPCS with 4 or 5 different vendor regions and a mess of half-deployed hardware on their network. They still have Clearwire junk hanging unplugged in their towers.

Then consider this, MetroPCS had mostly prepaid phone users... Sprint's got people paying down phones. In the old days the operator had a contract and the phone was subsidized, if they suddenly had to shut down towers in your area and you lost service.... the contract was void. With the exception of recent flagship models, there have always been Sprint variants due to weird spectrum allocations. MetroPCS just had more AWS spectrum for T-Mobile, so it was easy to move their customers in.

T-Mobile's going to be on the hook with sunsetting Sprint's network for like 2-3 years post-merger. There's also a ton of legacy M2M stuff around (fire alarms and fleet tracking) that will need time to replace.

My guess is that they move away from band 41 (2500mhz) TDD-LTE and go 5G with that since it's more useful than mmWave and won't be facing angry radar enthusiast pushback.


Boost is an MVNO that runs off of Sprint's networks today, but the sale of Boost is a commitment [1][2] T-Mobile made as part of their efforts to get the FCC to approve their merger with Sprint, with some very generous terms.

Remember that with LTE, there's no longer a divide between the GSM camp and the CDMA camp; it's the same LTE, although each carrier operates on various bands.

With the merger, and as phone firmwares are updated and incompatible handsets are cycled out, the combined LTE network is compelling. With Boost's current target market of urban youth, the fact most current Boost phones only support the Sprint's CDMA2000 3G and not T-Mobile's GSM-flavored 3G is less of an unfortunate fit than with a more general MVNO.

[1] https://newtmobile.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/FCC-Filing... [2] https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://newtmobile.com/wp-cont...


> Remember that with LTE, there's no longer a divide between the GSM camp and the CDMA camp; it's the same LTE, although each carrier operates on various bands.

Don't they have antennas in different locations though? Like even if your phone doesn't have compatibility issues with SIMs or bands, calling it "the same LTE" makes it seem like you could just pay someone else and get reception in the same areas which I don't think is the case?


It's more that most phones support most of the bands all the US providers use, so when the roaming policy changes, a lot of the phones will still work. The phone will be able to register with the roaming network.

Also, they can set up the antennas to broadcast on multiple MNCs, so it looks like a native network (i.e. T-Mobile can run LTE towers that broadcast as both the T-Mobile and old Sprint network so all Sprint phones can connect without a problem) (of course, this depends on Boost phones supporting VoLTE).


Your phone using a different-besides-your-home network is called 'roaming' and it's not uncommon. For this to happen, your phone needs to know which networks it should try to authenticate against.

A while back, Sprint and T-Mobile announced they'd launch a roaming agreement for LTE that would last for 4 years, and that would be honored even if their merger doesn't go through. According to some people [1] this went into effect in Summer 2018.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/Sprint/comments/9548zg/tmobile_data...


Yes in theory. But you can't roam the entire time or everywhere another provider has signal; in fact I've never managed to use it because I've only tried it in locations where my provider has awful coverage, and my phone's been unable to register. It's clearly only tailored to allowing you to get some semblance of service when you go out of the official range on occasion. It has various limits and T-Mobile terminates your contract if you roam more than half the time. So it's not like you can live somewhere out of their range and just change whom you pay your bills to and switch to roaming most of the time.


I don't understand what you're asking in your prior post when you say whether you could "pay someone else". Your carrier makes the agreements about with which others your phone could roam (and with who it can't), and your phone tries among the ones it can, but clearly not among the ones it can't. You continue to pay your bill to your home network. And yes, there are often restrictions with how much you can roam.

That being said, TMo and Sprint are making TMo sites advertise an old Sprint network identifier to Sprint phones, so that Sprint phones don't even think of it as roaming [1]. This is in effect for data only right now, not VoLTE.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/Sprint/comments/96lai0/clearwire_b2...


I'm saying their agreements are not equivalent to being on the other carrier because they might not help you in the particular time/place/type/amount of roaming you're interested in. Hence claiming it's all LTE because of the existence of roaming and non-existence of SIM/band compatibility issues with recent phones still paints the wrong picture that carrier doesn't affect where you get reception, whereas it very much does.


> Remember that with LTE, there's no longer a divide between the GSM camp and the CDMA camp

There is, because you're not always on LTE. Eventually LTE will be ubiquitous I'm sure, but right now it's still a concern.


I wonder if Amazon or the T-Mobile/Sprint side leaked this? Perhaps T-Mobile/Sprint weren't eager enough to sell, so Amazon wants the regulator to know an offer was made.


This would be a win-win. Tmobile and Sprint get their merger and a bucketload of cash to build out their 5G infrastructure. Amazon gets to piggyback off of their network and potentially claim some wireless spectrum.


I'm sure Amazon has evaluated every company that's available for sale at some point, but I'm willing to bet that's as far as their interest in Boost goes. This deal makes very little sense for them.


I didn't realize Boost mobile still existed. Would be interesting to see Amazon build a google FI competitor which also rides on t-mobile spectrum in the US.


Another perk for Prime members.


It strengthens their monopoly.


Huh? Their monopoly in which market?


I guess I phrased that poorly. What I was trying to convey was that by horizontally scaling (like a comment in this thread said), Amazon, like Apple can create this ecosystem in which they provide consumers an incentive to be a part of and stay within it. Essentially, they're making Prime look better (which is not a problem), but once they have these customers using these Prime services, it'll be hard for them to change (similar to how people who own MacBooks lean a little bit toward buying an iPhone for the ecosystem integration), essentially "locking" them within the Prime ecosystem, giving them control over pricing and other parameters. At first glance, buying Boost doesn't sound like a bad option, but by horizontally scaling their ecosystem, they get better control over pricing since they make a nice ecosystem of products for their customers to use.


I guess the internet? Apparently diversifying is monopolistic.


Horizontal acquisition extends around the definition of monopoly. I'm not against Amazon. I don't think they should be stopped from expanding... yet.

If the other conglomerates copy amazon then the possibility of a corporate dystopian future looks brighter!


The EU regular pretty much sums it up[0]:

> “If a company is dominant, that’s fine,” Ms. Vestager told reporters. “But if that dominance is abused, then we have an issue.”

Having a monopoly and not abusing it is impossible when you're dealing with humans. Maybe in a hundred years where business decisions run through a DLNN and are cross-referenced with the law to make sure they're in compliance, a monopoly that doesn't abuse its dominance will become a reality.

0: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/21/technology/google-europe-...


As I inferred with sarcasm, this divergence from vertical to horizontal growth could effectively lead to oligopolies in the major markets(the few where they don't exist).

I believe in the competitive market model up until economies of scale and purpose driven occupation out weigh it's benefits. e.g. manufacturing jet engines requires huge amounts of equity and legacy knowledge for safety. e.g. automating warehousing may lead to more fulfilling or mentally stimulating occupations.

Amazon as a force in the larger economy versus a subset of markets in the economy could spur innovation in stagnant markets. On the other side of the coin, leveraging their massive infrastructure gives them an unfair advantage as they enter new sectors which can lead to an increased market barrier and prevent firms with new ideas from competing.

As they stand, they aren't that much bigger than normal conglomerates[1]. But, they have strategically placed themselves in critical service areas like cloud computing. I think if they can force markets to evolve then we should allow them to grow with a discerning eye.

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_companies_by_r...


I doubt they want to start a cell company, more likely it is to have favorable terms for embedding 4G into Echo devices, making car and portable echos possible. They have done this for years w/Kindle, which would also benefit.


I doubt that would be the intention. At least not only that.

Amazon has some incredible network effects that would create a compelling cellphone service offering. They could bundle cellphone plans as an extra in Prime an undercut competition while giving unlimited access to Amazon.com, Alexa, Twitch etc.

Having a cellphone company makes a lot of sense for any of the big tech companies. It allows them to create end-to-end experiences that are compelling just because they can vertically integrate different moments of their customers journey.


I'm honestly curious why. Boost is the worst major MVNO of the worst major carrier. I feel it would be less expensive to build an MVNO from scratch than it would be to try and improve that image..


Sprint and T-Mobile are trying to sell Boost in order to get the merger approved. Amazon would most likely secure a promise the the MVNO agreement would carry over to T-Mobile after the merger.

Additionally, the brand image doesn't matter. They'd likely just rename it to something like 'Amazon Wireless'


Gotcha. That makes some sense, thank you.


Maybe cause they don't have any sustainable Revenue to justify their UNGODLY stock price? And, now need to compensate.

Let's not forget Microsoft was at $65 the majority lf their life.


Amazon's stock is expensive, however markets - investors - do not price stocks based on past results typically. Stocks are priced largely on future expectations. This has been particularly true in the case of Amazon for a long time.

They'll have near ~$30 billion in profit within the next four to five years, which will bring their PE down to a high, but not ungodly, 30x.

AWS is worth $300-$350 billion now. Very soon it will soon be larger than Oracle and it's growing extremely fast for a large business (a high multiple would be granted). Their ad business is worth $100-$150 billion. In the next four to five years, those two businesses together will be worth as much as the entire company is today. That's a big part of what investors are betting on, along with the expectation that Amazon is going to continue to find new profit centers.

Sure, you might say, why is Amazon priced for earnings four or five years out? Well, that's the standard practice of pulling future returns forward. Almost always happens with growth companies, inevitably leads to a stagnation period. Amazon will continue to grow into their market cap and their annual returns will drift downward.


I wonder how much they would save running all the Kindles over their own network (MVNO or not) instead of paying AT&T millions of dollars per month.


Its not just AMZN, other media giants are also interested in buying assets from the merged company to start another provider. If thats the case I would be OK with merger going ahead.


Oh. Sure. Just what Amazon needs: to also be a telecom. Sure would be a shame if there was a single industry they couldn't strongarm.


A sort of Google Fi for Amazon?


"It was not immediately clear why the largest U.S. online retailer would want the wireless network and spectrum."

I think we can wager a few guesses.




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