More evidence that any Sprint/T-Mobile tie-up would face big challenges

Bloomberg reported late last night that T-Mobile’s recent momentum is likely to be a major obstacle for any potential tie-up with Sprint. The nation’s fourth-largest carrier added 869,000 subscribers in the most recent quarter, Bloomberg notes, generating the kind of competition the Justice Department wanted to see after AT&T’s proposed acquisition failed two years ago. The piece cites longtime mobile analyst (and my former colleague) Jeff Silva, who predicted a move by Sprint “would hit a lot of static from federal regulators and antitrust officials.”

I completely agree with Silva, as I wrote last month when rumors of a tie-up were first reported. And I thought a comment that was posted by a Bloomberg reader was particularly insightful: The reader expected Sprint to become the disruptive carrier in the U.S. market following SoftBank’s acquisition, because SoftBank had been a tremendous force in the Japanese market. But SoftBank has failed to make any bold moves thus far, while T-Mobile has shaken up the industry in the last year. That indicates that T-Mobile’s disruptive ways would likely come to an end if it were to merge with Sprint. And that’s another good reason to block a deal.