Even Ryan Reynolds’ small U.S.-based carrier can’t escape big telco buyouts

Ryan Reynolds is the latest Canadian impacted by a big telco buying a smaller player

Actor Ryan Reynolds is the latest Canadian to be impacted by a carrier buyout.

T-Mobile will acquire Reynolds’ U.S.-based budget wireless provider Mint Mobile for as much as $1.35 billion USD (about $1.86 billion CAD). According to details reported by Bloomberg, T-Mobile wants Mint to bolster its prepaid phone business and reach more low-income customers. The final price will be based on Mint hitting certain performance goals both before and after the transaction closes.

Reynolds owns an undisclosed but “significant” stake in Mint and will continue to make commercial appearances on behalf of the company, Bloomberg reported. Mint co-founder David Glickman told the publication that Reynolds has incentives to “continue for years.”

T-Mobile expects the deal to close later this year.

While the Mint acquisition won’t mean much for most Canadians — beyond a death knell for any fleeting hope Mint might come north of the border — it is emblematic of a larger problem in North American telecom. That is the incessant gobbling up of competition by the biggest players.

One need look no further than the ongoing Rogers-Shaw merger, or the recent spate of smaller ISPs purchased by the largest Canadian telecom players. Telus picked up Start.ca and Altima, Bell acquired Distributel and EBOX, Vidéotron grabbed VMedia and is poised to get Freedom if Rogers gets Shaw, and Cogeco nabbed Oxio (my beloved).

Sure, the CRTC launched a review of internet services in Canada and cut wholesale rates, but it might be too little too late as the number of smaller players dwindles.

Of course, Mint Mobile wasn’t the answer to any of these problems. But it was an example of how things could be better. Mint offered some of the lowest mobile prices in the U.S., with plans starting at just $15 USD per month (about $20/mo CAD). While that pricing will continue — so says T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert — it won’t be as an alternative to big U.S. telcos but in service to one of them.

Image credit: Ryan Reynolds’ YouTube

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