Rival wireless companies T-Mobile and Sprint are once again talking about merging.
According to a report from Bloomberg, Sprint, as well as its biggest shareholder, SoftBank Group Corp. have had informal talks about a merger with T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom AG. Due to changing fortunes among the companies, this time around, the acquirer could be T-Mobile, Bloomberg reports, whereas previously Sprint was the potential buyer. It is unclear, however, if T-Mobile has the appetite to be the buyer, given Sprint’s recent struggles.
T-Mobile declined to comment on the reported talks.
T-Mobile isn’t the only company Sprint could sell to. Bloomberg reports cable companies itching to get into the U.S. wireless market, such as Comcast and Charter Communications could be interested in Sprint.
T-Mobile and Sprint have been talking about a merger for several years. But any acquisition talks in the wireless industry were put on hold for the better part of a year as the Federal Communications Commission held a spectrum auction. That process ended last month, and T-Mobile spent close to $8 billion to buy up huge chunks of low-band spectrum meant to shore up signal strength within buildings and in rural areas.
T-Mobile has surged in recent years, under Legere, passing Sprint to become the third largest wireless carrier in 2015. Legere and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure have lobbed insults back and forth over the years as the two companies jockeyed to be the main challenger to AT&T and Verizon.
Bloomberg notes that it is unknown how regulators under the Trump administration would deal with a potential merger between the nation’s third and fourth and forth largest wireless carriers. The 2014 T-Mobile-Sprint merger talks never came to fruition after U.S. regulators expressed concerns. Regulators are also evaluating an $85 billion deal for AT&T to buy Time Warner Inc.