This year's least-secret merger negotiations ended over the weekend, so there will be no deal this time either. Sprint and T-Mobile US have officially called off their talks on a deal. The stumbling block appears to have been the fact that Softbank would not be able to own the controlling stake in the combined company.
So what now? We go on with 4 mobile providers, which will probably be a good thing when it comes to pricing for consumers. Yes that's right, Verizon and AT&T are probably disappointed as well, as they were likely looking forward to a cease fire in the ongoing pricing wars. And the country's wireless backhaul providers will be privately toasting the lack of a deal as well, as there won't be a need to spin the inevitable network consolidation aimed at saving money at their expense.
But I suspect that we now move onto the next phase of rumors, the first of which will probably involve Sprint and a likely barely-willing cable MSO. While the most recent such rumor was Charter, Altice's deal to resell Sprint services over the weekend suggests perhaps they might be next up to bat. After that will probably come CenturyLink, and then some crazier ideas involving big content. Sprint's interest in a merger as a way to shift its fortunes make such rumors inevitable.
But in the meantime, Softbank is boosting its ownership stake in Sprint from 82% to 85%, because... Well I don't actually know why, but I'm sure Masayoshi Son has a reason somewhere in there.