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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

October 4, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Sprint may bid for MetroPCS, blocking T-Mobile deal

Bellevue can’t pop the corks just yet.

MetroPCS may have another suitor besides T-Mobile USA, complicating the merger announced Wednesday.

Sprint is considering a counter offer for Dallas-based MetroPCS, according to a Bloomberg report today.

It would be a defensive move by Sprint, the third-largest carrier, to prevent fourth-place T-Mobile from scaling up and posing a greater challenge.

It could also help Sprint advance its network upgrade. Like T-Mobile, Sprint is moving its network to LTE technology that MetroPCS has already begun using.

A Sprint spokesman said the company won’t comment on the topic.

If Sprint does make a competing bid, it will test the commitment of T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom. In announcing the MetroPCS deal Wednesday, DT said it was committed to building Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA into a more competitive player in the U.S. market.

That commitment could require a higher bid for MetroPCS, or more patience if Sprint delays or complicates the merger.

Sprint’s move is also interesting in light of its aggressive opposition to T-Mobile’s attempted merger with AT&T last year. The company pressed regulators to block that deal on the grounds that it would concentrate the wireless market too much.

Bloomberg’s story said Sprint is “crunching the numbers” and could decide whether to bid for MetroPCS as early as next week. The report said Sprint was also talking to DT about a deal with T-Mobile, and that it earlier this year considered and then rejected a plan to buy MetroPCS.

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