2020 saw one of the biggest telecommunications network coverage shake-ups in history when T-Mobile absorbed Sprint and its mobile network. Sprint was one of the big four cell coverage providers in the country, and after this move, that number was reduced to three.
The changes here went beyond eliminating the competition from AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. T-Mobile also gained access to the Sprint network assets and coverage area, allowing unprecedented expansion for the tech giant.
T-Mobile has been able to increase its bandwidth infrastructure using Sprint’s framework. It has also taken the opportunity to seamlessly integrate Sprint’s former customers, heavily increasing the number of people T-Mobile could cover alone.
Below, Navi provides all the details of the Sprint and T-Mobile merger.
Coverage Before the Sprint & T-Mobile Merger
In 2019, T-Mobile boasted the second-largest mobile network covering 62% of the United States. In first place at the time was Verizon with 70%. Sprint lagged far behind, only covering 30% of the nation. While Spring was a big player in the industry, it wasn’t matching the success of T-Mobile, Verizon, or AT&T.
When it comes to market subscriptions, however, both T-Mobile and Sprint were behind their competitors. 68.98% of the market share belonged to AT&T and Verizon, while T-Mobile and Sprint shared 29.64%. While T-Mobile still owned most of this, neither company was reaching the heights seen by the other two companies.
Between Q1 and Q2 of 2020, T-Mobile went from controlling 16.9% of the market share to controlling 24.9%. That number has stayed consistent up to 2022, where AT&T still controls 44.8%, and Verizon has 29.1%. While AT&T remains the oldest and most popular cell phone carrier in the nation, T-Mobile shot up and is no longer sitting at the bottom of the pack. The merger allowed T-Mobile to overtake Verizon in terms of market share and build on Sprint’s customer base as well as their own.
The additions to T-Mobile’s network included Sprint’s budding 5G infrastructure. With increases in both technological capacity and their customer base, T-Mobile has become a much more present competitor when compared with AT&T and Verizon.
What Happened to Sprint Customers?
While it was a merger that occurred between T-Mobile and Sprint, T-Mobile was the company with the power. T-Mobile began rebranding all Sprint services with the intent to remove Sprint as a name down the line. All Sprint customers were now tapping into T-Mobile’s network even if they still had Sprint written on their mobile plan.
It was pledged that there would be no price changes in the first three years to make this transition easier for existing customers. Anyone grandfathered into a Sprint account could continue using it as originally advertised for three years before having to look into T-Mobile’s pricing plans.
By 2022, all strictly Sprint-based services will have been shut down. This means everything that Sprint utilized will either be retired or rebranded for T-Mobile. This also means that all customers will need to purchase a T-Mobile phone plan as their existing Sprint plan will no longer be available.
Improvements in Service
T-Mobile made a number of promises when it was announced that it would be taking over Sprint. Things ranging from network improvements to customer experience changes were set to shift once T-Mobile finished absorbing Sprint.
Improvement to 5G Coverage
The biggest move T-Mobile made after its acquisition of Sprint was the rapid expansion of the T-Mobile5G network. T-Mobile has by far the largest 5G network of any telecommunications carrier in the country, with 53.79% of the country covered. This outshines Verizon at 12.77% and AT&T at 29.52% by a huge margin.
T-Mobile’s success in accomplishing this has been twofold: first, T-Mobile committed to rolling out lower band 5G than the competition to get the ball rolling on 5G integration early.
Second, the utilization of Sprint’s cell tower infrastructure allowed T-Mobile to commit resources to this project that would have otherwise been impossible prior to the acquisition.
The T-Mobile Magenta Max Plan
One of the biggest indicators of T-Mobile’s newfound technological capacity was the Magenta Max plan. This plan rolled out in 2021, and it acts as a powerful unlimited 5G plan. At the time, this was the first unlimited plan with 5G data with no downgrade or slow down depending on usage.
If you purchase three lines, the Magenta Max plan costs $140 per month, and it also comes with 40GB of hotspot data and a Netflix subscription. The announcement of this plan was a huge step for T-Mobile, and it put it neck and neck with Verizon and AT&T when it comes to unlimited plans.
T-Mobile used its newfound customer base combined with its expanded 5G infrastructure to provide a plan that rivals the best premium options at other mobile carriers.
T-Mobile Scam Shield
In 2020, T-Mobile also pushed forward on its new T-Mobile Scam Shield security plan. Scam Shield fights against scam calls by analyzing the numbers of people that attempt to contact you. The goal is to reduce robocalls and unwanted internet thieves from attempting to scam you or steal your information.
T-Mobile claims that this service is 70% effective, which is very high given the saturation of scam calls we are seeing today. In addition to basic scam ID, the service also has increased network-level protection to fight neighborhood spoofing and phone number hijacking.
There have been very few changes in the telecommunications world as big as the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. The big four mobile carriers were suddenly the big three, and the competitive landscape completely changed.
Instead of Verizon and AT&T battling at the top while T-Mobile and Sprint lagged behind, you now had three carriers with comparable services and popularity fighting for the top spot.
T-Mobile now had the capacity to expand its infrastructure and provide a much wider range of coverage. In addition to this, T-Mobile now had a much larger percentage of the industry’s market share due to them assimilating Sprint’s customers.
They had unprecedented space to expand the quality of their service, and even with the pandemic, they were able to transform the telecommunications market as a whole.
Visit Navi for more information on cell phone plans and whether T-Mobile is the right plan for you.
Welcome to the Family: What the T-Mobile Merger Means for You | Sprint
How T-Mobile Compares to AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint | CompareCellular.com
US largest wireless carriers 2021 | Statista
T-Mobile will shut down Sprint's LTE network in mid-2022 | The Verge
T‑Mobile Unleashes 5G with New Magenta MAX Plan | T-Mobile