money·3 min read

How the Sprint/T-Mobile Merger Could Affect Your Wallet

Feb 11, 2020

Back in 2018, T-Mobile and Sprint told everyone they want to get married. The Department of Justice and FCC have given their blessing to the $26.5 billion union. But some worry it’s heartbreak waiting to happen for consumers and their finances.

Here’s what this big telecomm merger could mean for your wallet.

You’ll get fewer choices. Right now, there are four big phone carriers in the US, including Verizon and AT&T. If T-Mobile and Sprint merge, there'd only be three. The T-Mobile CEO promised he won’t raise rates for three years. But over time, less competition typically = higher prices. Meaning your phone bill could eventually go up. And your opportunities to comparison-shop will go down.

Carriers might stop working so hard to win your business. More competition usually means companies offer incentives to convince you to buy their services. Less competition means those incentives might start disappearing. Potentially on the chopping block: unlimited data plans. Guess we’re back to fighting with the fam over who used all the data this month.

But upgrades could be coming. If all goes well, the deal could lead to faster internet speeds and better coverage for T-Mobile and Sprint customers. Even if you get your service from one of the other guys, the FCC chairman says the merger will incentivize all providers to up their game by expanding service to rural areas and helping to make 5G happen. Hi, instant movie downloads and VR doc visits.

Related: What 5G Could Mean for Your Wallet

theSkimm: Sprint and T-Mobile say their merger is a good thing. Critics still aren’t convinced this works out for anyone’s finances in the long run. The California Public Utilities Commission still has to decide where they stand. But execs at both companies are doing all they can to push things forward.

No matter how things shake out, you can find ways to lower your bill now. Like by turning on auto-pay or adding a line for a friend (who pays her part) to your plan. Adding more services to your bill might sound backwards, but it can lower the per-line cost and save you both money. Plot twist.

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