This almost happened 6 months ago but Sprint bailed out. What's become abundantly clear is Sprint is now in a class by itself... Last! That's for a number of reasons. Sprint was wrong buying Nextel's IDEN technology. They were wrong to launch 4G WiMAX with Clearwire which they eventually bought out, before LTE was adapted as the 4G global world standard putting Sprint years behind the competition. To make matters worse, their fellow "second tier carrier", T-Mobile is no longer a second tier carrier but has leaped past AT&T to become Verizon's fiercest rival.
The reality is Softbank is losing money on Sprint and wants out. They previously balked because they did not want to relinquish control. They really have no choice. Did I also mention that Sprint still relies on their CDMA 3G network backbone. The real downside here is that they are the only carrier that does not support voice and data simultaneously over acellular network like all the other carriers.
My opinion is Sprint cannot afford not to sell to T-Mobile. Even if AT&T or Verizon were remotely interested, the FCC would have a hard time pushing a merger with these two. Anyone who has seen those commercials with the ex-Verizon "Can You Hear Me Now" Dude saying that the network quality difference is only 1% is delusional.
Joel Saltzman has over twenty years of wireless industry experience. He is currently CEO and Chief Wireless Analyst for Dr Wireless.