Customers react to possible T-Mobile and Sprint merger

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A federal judge gave the green light Tuesday morning to allow Sprint and T-Mobile to merge companies.

The announcement raised concerns with customers about the cellphone bills. Sprint customer Sarah Hopkins seemed cautiously optimistic.

"I feel good about it," Hopkins said, "I enjoy my little phone."

Hopkins is on a family plan with her daughter and is getting used to her flip phone. She says bills tend to go up anyways, she just hopes it doesn't cost more than she can afford.

"Long as it don't go up too much, it's alright. Because sometimes you don't have nothing but just like a little fixed income and everything, but long as it don't go up too much because everything is going up now," Hopkins said.

Hopkins says she was a Sprint customer when they were a telephone company back in the 80's.

Maureen House has been a Sprint customer since the iPhone was invented. So, around 13 years.

House said, "If it doesn't change the price I pay and I still get good service, it doesn't matter to me."

She keeps her expectations high for the two companies.

"I'm on a family plan. I hope they let me keep that plan. I've been very happy with Sprint. So, I hope T-Mobile, when they merge, will do as well," House said.

ECU Marketing Professor and Associate Dean of Research and Faculty Development, Dr. Judy Siguaw says the merger will come with a number of benefits, such as being a more challenging competitor to Verizon and AT&T; as well as more services, such as the option of 5G.

Siguaw said, "From a standpoint of the companies, I understand why they did it, because if you already have this giant competitor our there, you've gotta grow enough to compete with them. And merging another company was the best and fastest way to do that.

Siguaw says it's a strategic move. "It helps them immediately grow their network. So, you can try to grow slowly across time, but that's going to take time; but if you can go back and merge with another company that kind of fits with you, then immediately, 'Boom!' You're already ahead of the game."

However, business experts also argue about the disadvantages. Statistics show around 30,000 employees could be laid off as locations shut down.

Siguaw said, "If you've got a Sprint store there and a T-Mobile across the street, are you going to close one? Are people going to be laid off?"

There's also the chance bills could increase due to customers having fewer choices.

"It may be that they become even more competitive and prices go down, but it means it's pretty easy to raise them as well," said Siguaw.

Siguaw suggests keeping the customers first.

"They really have to pay attention to customer service. That's going to be key to keeping their customers so you don't lose them to the other big competitor," said Siguaw

Sprint's stock reportedly rose 70 percent since the announcement and T-Mobile's spiked 12 percent.

The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department have already signed off on the merger after T-Mobile agreed to create a new, smaller wireless carrier with Dish. The deal can't close until the California Public Utilities Commission approves it.