Another wrinkle in the ongoing merger saga of T-Mobile and Sprint has emerged, and it involves one of the biggest tech companies. Reuters reports, via unnamed sources, that Amazon has expressed interest in acquiring Boost Mobile, the no-contract carrier that has been a long-time subsidiary of Sprint.
You may remember that earlier this month, T-Mobile announced that it was willing to sell off Boost Mobile as an incentive to get the U.S. government to approve the merger with Sprint.
Reuters says Amazon is interested in purchasing Boost Mobile for two reasons; one is that the deal will reportedly allow the buyer of Boost to use T-Mobile’s network for at least six years after the merger is completed. The other stated reason is that Amazon is also interested in purchases any wireless spectrum that might have to be divested by T-Mobile if the deal is to be approved.
Earlier this week, an unconfirmed report claimed that the U.S. Justice Department has proposed that T-Mobile would work to create a fourth major national wireless carrier, with its own network, as a condition of approving the Sprint merger. Amazon certainly has the deep pockets to create its own wireless network in the U.S., although we don’t know how T-Mobile might feel about creating a new competitor in exchange for buying an older one.
While would Amazon want to buy Boost Mobile, anyway?
Of course, the big question about this story (which, again, has not been confirmed or denied by the companies involved) is why would Amazon want to buy Boost Mobile in the first place. One big reason is that Amazon might want to compete not just with the other national carriers, but its long-time rival Google. Google has its own MVNO carrier, Google Fi, which borrows from the networks of T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular, along with Wi-Fi hotspots. It also sells its own Pixel smartphone devices via Google Fi.
Amazon has had a lot of success in selling a number of hardware devices, like its Echo smart speakers, its Kindle e-Readers and its Fire tablets. However, its one smartphone device, the Fire Phone, was a massive disaster when it launched several years ago.
Purchasing a wireless carrier — and then getting access to some of the spectrum owned by T-Mobile — may be part of a major plan by Amazon to launch its own smartphone devices again. It’s even possible that Amazon could offer access to its wireless network as a part of an Amazon Prime subscription.
In any case, if this report is accurate, it’s possible that T-Mobile’s only hope of seeing this Sprint merger come to a successful close is to let Amazon become a competitor.