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Tara Lachapelle

Sprint, T-Mobile: Three Big Takeaways

The benefits are abstract until regulators give their approval.

Inside The T-Mobile US Inc. Un-Carrier X Event
Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

I almost can’t believe it. After years of flirtation and false starts—not to mention false hope for investors—wireless carriers T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. have finally inked a deal.

T-Mobile agreed on Sunday to buy Overland Park, Kansas-based Sprint in a stock swap that values Sprint at about $26 billion, plus the assumption of its scary $32 billion net debt load. The transaction will give the No. 3 and No. 4 U.S. wireless carriers a much-needed leg up in a cutthroat marketplace still dominated by Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. And it comes at a time when AT&T is trying to get even bigger by reaching outside its wheelhouse to acquire media giant Time Warner Inc., a deal that, if approved, would likely inspire Verizon to pursue its own cross-industry megamerger. For these reasons and more, T-Mobile and Sprint need one other.