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Sprint Eyes Merger With T-Mobile: Report

New York – Sprint could launch a bid to purchase rival T-Mobile in the first half of 2014 if it decides a merger wouldn’t run into regulatory resistance, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The deal, said to be driven by majority owner SoftBank, would help the combined carrier create the scale needed to improve their networks and make spectrum purchases to compete more effectively with larger rivals Verizon Wireless and AT&T, the report said. The combined entity would still trail AT&T and Verizon in the number of subscribers, with Verizon having about 95 million postpaid customers and AT&T having about 72 million. Sprint and T-Mobile combined have about 53 million postpaid subscribers.

Deutsche Telekom, which owns 67 percent of T-Mobile, is interested in selling its T-Mobile stake, the report said.

Two years, AT&T entered into an agreement to buy T-Mobile, but the Justice Department blocked the merger on antitrust grounds.

Industry consolidation continued following the government decision. Earlier this year, Japan carrier SoftBank purchased an 80 percent stake in Sprint to boost the faltering carrier’s fortunes. AT&T bought no-contract carrier Leap Wireless, and T-Mobile purchased prepaid carrier MetroPCS.