The announcement of T-Mobile's planned purchase of MetroPCS may have come as a surprise to most of the industry, though it shouldn't have. It has also stirred up some old emotions with an ex-suitor of MetroPCS, Sprint. A few months ago, we found out that Sprint had considered purchasing the carrier.
Apparently jealousy has reared its ugly head and Sprint's board of directors will spend the weekend and early next week discussing whether or not to outbid T-Mobile for the country's 5th largest carrier. While the purchase won't quite knock anyone out of its ranking position like Verizon's purchase of Alltel, it would help Sprint in expanding its LTE network quicker than its current strategy. It would also prevent T-Mobile from creeping into Sprint's territory, both in 3rd place ranking and in prepaid marketshare, which is something that is very important to Sprint's survival in the overly competitive wireless industry.
A T-Mobile buyout of MetroPCS would put them in a position to challenge Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile's ownership of the prepaid industry. Sprint relies on their prepaid offerings to help deal with the financial disaster that has been the Clearwire partnership. The last thing they need is T-Mobile offering a service that could challenge their WiMax escape plan. This story will be more interesting to follow than the failed AT&T buyout of T-Mobile.