Count Federal Communications chairman Tom Wheeler as one of the people who is happy that Sprint decided to call off its proposed $32 billion merger with T-Mobile. In a brief statement released on Wednesday, Wheeler expressed satisfaction that there would still be four major wireless carriers in the United States and added that Sprint should now take this opportunity to actually improve its network and service offerings instead of simply trying to acquire more spectrum through pricey mergers.
“Four national wireless providers are good for American consumers,” Wheeler wrote. “Sprint now has the opportunity to focus their efforts on robust competition.”
Sprint’s big chance to regain some of the ground it’s lost to its rivals will come next year when the carrier will have the chance to bid on some prime spectrum on the 600MHz band. Neither Sprint nor T-Mobile placed bids at the last major spectrum auction for the 700MHz band, which is a major reason why neither carrier has the kind of LTE coverage that both AT&T and Verizon have. Given this, we’d expect both smaller carriers will be very aggressive in their bids for this hugely valuable spectrum.