Friday, October 5, 2012

The solution to Sprint spectrum woes is not a bidding war over Metro PCS

After the announcement that T-Mobile is buying Metro PCS there has been rumors and speculation that Sprint is considering a counter bid to avoid being left out of the final stages of market consolidation.

If these rumors are true, they on the one hand point to another missed opportunity by Sprint, but on the other hand a lucky escape, it all depends on what the motivations behind going after Metro PCS would be.

If Sprint is mainly looking for spectrum to launch grow 4G services, they have a much better solution almost in their backyard. 

Sprint already control a significant minority stake in Clearwire which has the strongest data-centric spectrum position of any US carrier. Sprint would just have to buy out the remaining owners which should be made easier by Time Warner Cable and Comcast jumping ship. In this scenario, missing out on Metro PCS would be a rare lucky break for Sprint.

If you on the other hand look at the limitations to organic growth in the US wireless market due to very low churn rates, especially for the large carriers AT&T and Verizon, a logical growth strategy would be to acquire the remaining regional carriers like Metro PCS, Leap Wireless, US cellular and others. From this perspective, missing out on Metro PCS could be a costly proposition and a big hit to future growth.

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