By Angela Moon, Sheila Dang and Diane Bartz
(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc is interested in buying prepaid cellphone wireless service Boost Mobile from U.S. 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 U.S. online retailer would want the wireless network and spectrum.
But Amazon, which began its business by 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 Inc, Apple Inc and Facebook Inc, and is a leading cloud services provider.
T-Mobile and Sprint have offered concessions, including selling Boost, to reduce their market share in the prepaid wireless business and gain regulatory approval for their planned $26 billion (21 billion pounds) merger.
The U.S. Justice Department would need to scrutinize the buyer of a divested asset to ensure it will 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.
(Reporting by Angela Moon and Sheila Dang in New York and Diane Bartz in Washington; editing by Kenneth Li, Rosalba O’Brien and Richard Chang)