WINCHESTER — T-Mobile and Sprint have merged to create what has already been coined as a “wireless giant” by some national media.
Before the takeover, Shentel, which has serviced customers in the Northern Shenandoah Valley for more than 100 years and also services other parts of Virginia as well as parts of West Virginia and Maryland, was an affiliate of Sprint.
It is unclear whether Shentel will continue under the T-Mobile umbrella.
“For now, it’s business as usual,” a T-Mobile spokesperson said. “T-Mobile leaders are reviewing Sprint’s relationships with its business partners, including affiliates, and will reach out to talk in the coming days.”
Shentel Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Heimbach said Wednesday that the companies took about 23 months to obtain legal and regulatory approval. In turn, that gave ample time for all involved to “navigate the issue,” Heimbach said.
With that, Heimbach said subscribers shouldn’t panic as there are options on the table that bring little to no change.
“Now that the merger has closed, it officially commences some provisions in our agreement with Sprint that kick off a negotiation period with the New T-Mobile where [we] begin negotiating either our future as an affiliate with the New T-Mobile or if they choose to buy our wireless business,” Heimbach said.
Heimbach said there is also a third, but unlikely, scenario in which neither of the first two options happens. In that case, Heimbach said, the New T-Mobile would “be forced to turn down their operations on our region in a two-year time frame.” It would be unlikely, Heimbach said, because Shentel covers parts of seven states and has over a million subscribers.
Heimbach said many subscribers thought the merger had already happened and most others knew it was forthcoming. But, he noted, nothing has changed with the official announcement.
“You wouldn’t necessarily realize you’re dealing with Shentel,” Heimbach said. “We leverage their brand and go to market as Sprint exclusively in our retail stores. Your experience dealing with us is just as if you were dealing with Sprint anywhere else in the country.”
The New T-Mobile is described as a “supercharged Un-carrier that will deliver a transformative 5G network” by T-Mobile.
The New T-Mobile, Heimbach said, is going to honor legacy Sprint rate plans and honor those plans for new subscribers. Both brands will continue to exist in the market place “in the foreseeable future,” he added.
The deal for T-Mobile to acquire Sprint was valued at $26.5 billion two years ago and was approved by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice last year.
Highlights of the deal, according to T-Mobile’s news release, include the network having 14 times more capacity within the next six years than T-Mobile alone has today. It also will give customers access to average 5G speeds up to eight times faster than current LTE in just a few years, with 5G being provided to 99% of the U.S. population within six years, and 5G speeds over 100 Mbps to 90% of the U.S. population.
T-Mobile said it has planned an investment of $40 billion into its network, business and more over the next three years.
The merger also gave way to the expected switchover in CEOs from John Legere to Mike Sievert.
“During this extraordinary time, it has become abundantly clear how vital a strong and reliable network is to the world we live in. The New T-Mobile’s commitment to delivering a transformative broad and deep nationwide 5G network is more important and more needed than ever and what we are building is mission-critical for consumers,” Sievert states in a T-Mobile news release. “With this powerful network, the New T-Mobile will deliver real choice and value to wireless and home broadband customers and double down on all the things customers have always loved about the Un-carrier. T-Mobile has been changing wireless for good — and now we are going to do it on a whole new level.”