Nearly two years after formallyannouncing a merger agreementthat was another few years in the making,T-Mobile and Sprint finally became one carrier on April 1. But even thoughall the legalandregulatory hurdles were cleared, the long overdue completion of the union between the nation's third and fourth-largest wireless service providers couldn't yield immediate results for either consumers or employees.
While T-Mo's bold network expansion efforts are already underway, it might take several years for Sprint's valuable mid-band 5G spectrum to be repurposed and exploited to its full potential in order to boost nationwide speeds. Current Sprint subscribers may also need to wait at least a few months to be offered satisfactory network switch and device upgrade deals, with some of these moves likely to coincide with the start of a "New T-Mobile" marketing onslaught expected to put the Sprint brand to rest for good.
But there's one more thing that Magenta promised would derive from the merger and that might take quite some time to actually occur. We're talking about the creation of jobs, which unfortunately seems to be preceded (if not replaced) by a worrying number of layoffs. That's right, thousands of employees are reportedly getting ready to lose their jobs at the worst possible time, just as many analysts warned and labor unions feared would happen.
Hundreds of Metro by T-Mobile stores will likely be closed soon
As initially reported by Peter Adderton, the founder of Boost Mobile America, and quickly confirmed ("from multiple sources") by the National Wireless Independent Dealer Association, a bunch of termination letters have been recently issued to Metro by T-Mobile dealers. These were given 120 days to put their affairs in order before having to drop the curtain on their stores.
We're obviously not talking about temporary closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic or anything like that, and while the exact number of stores covered by these termination notices remains unknown, Adderton believes it's anywhere between 1500 and 2000, with the NWIDA leaning more towards the lower end of that estimate.
Either way, several thousands of people are likely to get the pink slip before long, and the reasons for that are as simple as they are ruthless. Insiders claim most of the exclusive Metro by T-Mobile retail locations set to be terminated have been deemed "low performers", while others are at the end of their leases.
For its part, the nation's leading "Un-carrier" appears to be disputing the accuracy of the aforementioned rumored number in a statement to FierceWireless, admitting however that a "small number of redundant locations" are to be closed, as the company is always looking to "optimize" its "retail footprint as a normal course of business to ensure we are in the best position to support the thousands of communities" served across the US.
There's still time for T-Mobile to do good in the grand scheme of things
Before rushing to conclusions and pointing the finger at Magenta for so rapidly turning from the hero of the US wireless industry to a merciless Verizon-sized villain, you should try to look back at exactly what T-Mo vowed to do after closing its Sprint acquisition.
In April 2019, for instance, then-CEO John Legere penned a detailed blog post that highlighted his company's pledge to create "nearly 5,600 new American customer care jobs by 2021" and "open 600 new stores to serve rural areas and small towns that neither T-Mobile nor Sprint serve today" at an unspecified point in the future. In total, the aim was for New T-Mobile to have "more than 11,000 additional employees by 2024 compared to what the combined standalone companies would have."
As you can notice, all promises had distant or vague deadlines, leaving T-Mo plenty of wiggle room to revise and "optimize" its extended business over time and technically do what was promised while also trimming the fat in certain markets.
Of course, even if T-Mobile will end up creating more new jobs in some places than it's currently cutting in others, that won't change the fact thousands of Metro store employees are about to file for unemployment. But that's a well-known casualty of mergers, and both the FCC and DOJ were aware of this very real risk when clearing the transaction. Let's just hope the merger will indeed prove beneficial for consumers, employees, and the industry in general in the long run.