Amazon Said to Be Interested in Buying a US Telecom Operator

It is unclear what Amazon may want from a wireless service operator.

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Amazon Said to Be Interested in Buying a US Telecom Operator

Amazon.com Inc is interested in buying prepaid cellphone wireless service Boost Mobile from US carriers T-Mobile US Inc and Sprint Corp, two sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Amazon is considering buying Boost mainly because the deal would allow it to use T-Mobile's wireless network for at least six years, one of the sources said. Amazon would also be interested in any wireless spectrum that could be divested, the source said.

Amazon declined to comment. T-Mobile and Sprint did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

It was not immediately clear why the largest US online retailer would want the wireless network and spectrum.

Amazon has already been building experience by offering phone calls through its Echo Connect product, which uses a person's home phone service and allows an Alexa-enabled voice-activated speaker to make phone calls.

Amazon, which started out selling books, has a long history of exploring new ventures, such as making original TV shows for Amazon Prime members. It is now one of the Big Four technology companies along with Alphabet, Apple, and Facebook, and is a leading cloud services provider.

T-Mobile and Sprint have already pledged to sell Boost as part of measures to reduce their market share in the prepaid wireless business and gain regulatory approval for their planned $26 billion merger.

The US Justice Department would need to scrutinise the buyer of a divested asset to ensure it would stay viable and preserve competition.

The carriers are also considering divesting wireless spectrum, or airwaves that carry data, in order to push the merger through.

The merger, if approved, would leave the United States with three wireless carriers instead of four. Some consumer advocates have raised concerns that the merger could raise prices for wireless users and have called for an additional competitor.

The sale of Boost could fetch up to $3 billion, potential bidders previously told Reuters.

© Thomson Reuters 2019

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