Sprint and its Japanese backer SoftBank remain interested in a potential deal for T-Mobile, though regulatory and other concerns remain and no deal is imminent, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Bloomberg reported earlier on Wednesday that Sprint has again been talking with bankers in an effort to line up financial backing for a deal.
Interest from both SoftBank and Sprint in T-Mobile stretches back more than two years amid a feeling that something drastic needed to be done in order to create a stronger company to rival the two largest carriers, AT&T and Verizon.
However, regulators have taken a dim view of seeing the U.S. market reduced from four competitors to three. The Federal Communications Commission blocked AT&T’s plan to buy T-Mobile a couple years back.
FCC officials indicated they would be wary of even the two smaller carriers joining forces. SoftBank chief Masayoshi Son went to Washington again last month to talk up his views on competition.
The agency has proposed rules for an upcoming spectrum auction that would place limits on how much spectrum could be acquired by AT&T and Verizon, but those in favor of allowing a Sprint-T-Mobile combination say spectrum policy alone won’t be enough to shake up the market dynamics and allow a true rival to AT&T and Verizon.
Representatives for T-Mobile and SoftBank declined to comment. A Sprint representative was not immediately available for comment.