While the T-Mobile–Sprint merger still hasn’t gotten the green light from the Justice Department, the FCC has already approved the deal and as part of the FCC’s stipulations, T-Mobile/Sprint would be forced to sell off Boost Mobile. However, the more important question is trying to figure out which company would be interested in buying Boost and making a bigger push into the wireless market.
According to a recent report from Reuters, it seems one potential candidate is online retailer megacorp Amazon, which, according to sources familiar with the matter, is not only interested in buying Boost Mobile, but possibly acquiring wireless spectrum that the new T-Mobile/Sprint would need to also divest as part of the merger.
Currently, it’s not entirely clear why Amazon is suddenly interested in operating its own MVNO (mobile virtual network operator). However, it seems one of the big lures of the deal would be the ability to use T-Mobile’s wireless network to enhance its service for at least six years. And with Google already operating its own MVNO in Fi, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that Amazon is entertaining the idea of doing the same.
That said, Amazon may not be the only company eye the potential future sale of Boost Mobile; based on a report from Bloomberg, it seems Comcast is also interested in acquiring Boost Mobile if and when a T-Mobile/Sprint merger gets approved.
For Comcast, the deal makes a lot more sense, as it’s already a player in the wireless space thanks to Xfinity Mobile. Currently, Xfinity Mobile’s service relies on a network of wifi hotspots and cell coverage that runs off Verizon’s 4G network, so the addition of Boost Mobile, its estimated 7 million subscribers, and added wireless spectrum would give Comcast and Xfinity Mobile a lot more resources to work with.
But where things get really interesting is, according to another Bloomberg report, in order for the Justice Department to approve the merger, T-Mobile/Sprint may have to help create a whole new national wireless carrier to ensure that even after the companies merge, there will be four major wireless providers instead of just three.
This would mean simply renting bandwidth from one of the other carriers wouldn’t be enough, as the new entity would need to operate its own network, including all the equipment, wireless spectrum, and cell towers necessary to make that happen. That would be a huge endeavor, even for companies with deep pockets like Amazon or Comcast.
If that did happen, it would mean living in a world where the U.S.’s four big wireless carriers are AT&T, Verizon, new T-Mobile, and either Comcast or Amazon. For a lot of people, that’s a chilling thought. Sure, right now it’s just speculation. But what if? Which company do you think would make a better—or worse—nationwide wireless carrier: Comcast or Amazon?
[Update 3:45PM] According to a statement given to CNBC, Comcast says it is not interested in acquiring Boost Mobile or wireless spectrum from T-Mobile/Sprint if a merger gets approved. Amazon appears to still be in the running though.