20 Things Leaseholders Must Know About the T-Mobile/Sprint Merger!

On 2/11/2020, the final barrier to the Sprint/T-Mobile merger has been removed as a judge has ruled in their favor and determined the merger is not anti-competitive and should be allowed to proceed. (We disagree that the merger will not be anti-competitive but do believe it should be allowed to proceed).
Here is what you should know:

  1. The merger should be completed and closed by the two companies by the end of February.
  2. Sprint and T-Mobile have been active already this year which suggests that they had a good feeling about the merger.
  3. Conditions placed on the merger require Sprint to divest customers and network assets to DISH so that it can become a nationwide 4 th competitor.
  4. DISH has also been active in issuing RFQs for deployment work which means they will
  5. Prior to the inclusion of DISH, the assumption was that Sprint and T-Mobile would be terminating 35,000 cell sites out of 110,000 combined.
  6. Sprint sites are more likely to be decommissioned then T-Mobile sites.
  7. However, Sprint is now obligated to offer up 20,000 expected decommission sites to DISH of which DISH can assume any, all, or none.
  8. DISH does have an obligation to build out 15,000 “5G” sites of their own in a tight timeline so our assumption is that they will assume Sprint offered sites. (Originally, the agreed upon date was June 14, 2023, but this date may be extended due to the trial.)
  9. Those that aren’t assumed will be terminated.
  10. These terminations will occur over multiple years.
  11. However, it is highly doubtful that that terminations will occur quickly as Sprint also has to transfer its 800MHz network to DISH. Further, Sprint has up to 5 years to offer the 20,000 decom sites to DISH.
  12. If you have both Sprint and T-Mobile on the same location, there is a strong likelihood that the new T-Mobile won’t keep both.
  13. If Sprint and T-Mobile are on separate structures near each other, there is a strong likelihood that the new T-Mobile won’t keep both.
  14. There will be a small percentage of occasions where it makes more sense for the company to keep a Sprint site over a T-Mobile site.
  15. In both situations (13 and 14 above), some of those sites will be retained by DISH.
  16. If you received a lease buyout offer regarding a T-Mobile or Sprint lease or a tower company lease where T-Mobile and Sprint are sub-tenants, the risk of the merger occurring is likely already “baked” into the offer.  Most companies have assumed the merger will occur.
  17. Expect to see a flurry of activity related to many T-Mobile sites and some Sprint sites. Also expect to see new leases and applications for new DISH sites.
  18. Unfortunately, the lease optimization companies will use the announcement of the merger to attempt to scare leaseholders into renegotiating.
  19. Leaseholders should not rush to renegotiate their leases even though there will likely be a lot of marketing directed at them suggesting that time is of the essence.
  20. In other words, you have time to make an informed decision about your cell site lease assets.

Looking for more information- see our webpage on the T-Mobile-Sprint merger and how it impacts cell
tower leaseholders.

Steel in the Air, Inc. is available to discuss your situation and help you understand the ramifications to
your cell site leases as needed.  Please contact us if you have any questions.

5 comments

  1. Ken,
    Thank you for the T-Mobile/Sprint merger articles. Very interesting stuff.
    Somehow, I got screwed over by the lease buyout company and I have to pay the property taxes for another 30 years and as you know taxes will only be going up. So I am hopeful that this tower will be decommissioned someday soon.
    –Joe Skodny
    [email protected]

  2. I lease my tower to both T-Mobile and Sprint. Their actions don’t make sense at my site. Sprint just put in there most modern cellular equipment they have, and T-Mobile is also upgrading to 600 mhz. I have construction plans for both companies. Why would they spent 250K on all new equipment and then terminate ? Also if one terminates they are required to de-rig antennas and cabinets from my shelter. I asked this question to the contractors working on my site and they said that, Sprint equipment will go to Dish. What do they know ?

  3. Hi- up until April 1, the companies were still proceeding with their separate build plans in case the merger did not go through. As a result, they were making modifications that may be worthless eventually. The contractors at the site may not know much more than the general market does about DISH assuming Sprint sites.

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