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T-Mobile and Sprint restart merger talks... again

Will they or won't they? The two wireless carriers are reportedly back at the negotiating table, five months after talk of a deal fell apart.

Sprint and T-Mobile storefronts, side by side on a street.

T-Mobile and Sprint are discussing a possible merger again, for the third time since 2014. 

Richard Levine/Getty Images

T-Mobile and Sprint, the third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers in the US, are talking once again about a possible merger.

Discussions are preliminary, according to a Tuesday report in The Wall Street Journal citing people familiar with the matter. The news comes five months after the two last broke off talks, and it's the third go-around since 2014.

The last time the rivals decided to call things off, in November, they said they "were unable to find mutually agreeable terms." The Journal said it's not clear what terms are now being discussed.

Sprint declined to comment. T-Mobile didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

If the two companies do reach a deal, they'd leapfrog AT&T, which is the No. 2 carrier in the US and just behind Verizon. But even if they do agree to merge, it may not be so simple. The Justice Department is currently trying to block AT&T's $85 billion purchase of Time Warner.

Sprint, the No. 4 wireless carrier in the US, is largely owned by Japanese conglomerate Softbank Group, while T-Mobile, at No. 3, is controlled by German company Deutsche Telekom. Sprint said in February that it'll launch a nationwide mobile 5G network in early 2019, ahead of its rivals. T-Mobile said its next-gen service will be available in some places next year, but it'll provide coverage across the US in 2020.