T-Mobile merger: How Sprint combination, Dish entrance can impact your phone bill

The wireless market in the US is changing. Here's how the new reality could affect your wallet.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G, mobile networks, wireless carriers, phones, tablets, streaming devices, streaming platforms, mobile and console gaming
Eli Blumenthal
3 min read

After Friday's DOJ approval, here's what the latest merger move means for your phone service and bill. 

Joshua Goldman/CNET

With the Department of Justice finally giving T-Mobile's $26.5 billion merger with Sprint a thumbs-up, the US wireless industry can begin preparing for its new reality. Sprint is going away, T-Mobile is getting a lot bigger and Dish -- after years of hoarding spectrum -- is set to become a fourth wireless competitor. 

With the wide reach of the deal, all of this moving and shaking is bound to have an impact on mobile phone service, including how much it costs and who you get it from. 

Although there are still more legal challenges ahead, including a lawsuit from more than a dozen state attorneys general trying to block the T-Mobile-Sprint merger, what will this new wireless world mean for the price of your phone bill and service right now? We're going to try to break that down in this list, which we'll update as events unfold. 

Watch this: T-Mobile-Sprint merger: What it means for you



T-Mobile has said it won't raise prices for three years after the merger, including on 5G service. 

Joshua Goldman/CNET

T-Mobile CEO John Legere previously promised the Federal Communications Commission that the company won't raise wireless prices for three years following the merger's approval, and that promise still stands after the DOJ gave its blessing to the deal. 

If you're currently a T-Mobile customer you can expect to continue using the same plans for service -- including with 5G , if it's available in your area. 


Sprint 5G

Sprint service will remain the same for current customers.

Lynn La/CNET

For the time being, until the remaining legal hurdles are cleared, Sprint will continue to operate independently, with plans and promotions functioning as they were before the DOJ's ruling. 

It is not yet known what will happen to Sprint's plans as the companies continue to integrate, such as if they will be grandfathered in and continue to work at T-Mobile, or if subscribers will need to choose new plans. In the short term, however, Sprint users will be able to start taking advantage of T-Mobile's network, thanks to a roaming agreement reached between the two companies. 

Boost, Virgin Mobile and Sprint prepaid

These three Sprint prepaid brands, which cover 9.3 million people, will be heading to Dish after the merger is officially closed. For right now, however, they remain with Sprint and nothing changes on their rate plans or services. 

Even after the deal is approved, service should remain the same as, per the DOJ's brokering, T-Mobile has agreed to let Dish users use its network for seven years while Dish builds out its own 5G network. 

Google Fi, Ting and other MVNOs

Google Fi iPhone

Google Fi will continue to work on both T-Mobile and Sprint's networks. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

T-Mobile said Friday that as part of the deal it will not be adjusting the contracts of any agreements with it or Sprint's mobile venture network operators. Also known as MVNOs, these are carriers like Google's Fi and Ting that rent space on a nationwide provider to offer their own wireless service using the larger network's existing infrastructure. 

Both Project Fi and Ting use a combination of T-Mobile and Sprint's networks and should continue to operate normally as part of the deal. New MVNOs, such as cable company Altice's forthcoming offer, which relies on Sprint's network, will also be able to continue to launch as planned. 

It is unclear what might happen in the future, but for now, the deal should not impact the services on those networks.

AT&T and Verizon

Regulators are hoping that a stronger T-Mobile and a new player in Dish will be able to challenge AT&T and Verizon, with the renewed competition pushing the telecom giants to offer better rates to consumers. 

For now, however, nothing has changed for America's two largest carriers. Both companies have not adjusted any of their strategies or pricing for their latest plans. 

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