T-Mobile today announced that it has successfully completed its merger with regional prepaid network MetroPCS. The two companies are now unified and operating as one entity. The merger will give T-Mobile desperately needed spectrum to roll out its 4G LTE network nationwide.
T-Mobile International, owned by Deutsche Telekom, will remain the majority shareholder with a 74% equity stake. MetroPCS shareholders received the remaining stake, which is now open for trading on the NYSE.
The MetroPCS brand will continue, however, as was announced by the unified corporation, which began trading as T-Mobile US today. The new generation of Metro devices however will not run on the CDMA/LTE network, but instead on T-Mobile’s UMTS/LTE network. T-Mobile will begin rebanding MetroPCS coverage and will eventually replace CDMA/LTE devices with UMTS/LTE handsets, once the carrier completes a network integration.
While the two networks use underlying voice-and-3G-data networks that are incompatible, the unification should be less painful than the notorious wind-down of the Nextel iDEN network, scheduled for June 30 by Sprint. Sprint has re-affirmed that they will keep to this timetable. T-Mobile can benefit from CDMA-LTE bridges that will allow for them to easily integrate Network Operations Centers and slowly wind down the MetroPCS network as spectrum is allocated to T-Mobile.
It remains unclear what will happen to GoSmart Mobile – the T-Mobile prepaid brand that was expected to replace MetroPCS. The brand offers similar plans to MetroPCS but uses T-Mobile’s UMTS/LTE network instead. For now, the brand is unique as MetroPCS customers cannot tap into T-Mobile’s network today, though that is planned to change in the future. It is possible GoSmart is the mule and infrastructure for the relaunched MetroPCS brand, however.