Deutsche Telekom nears deal to buy cellphone rival of its T-Mobile USA unit

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Deutsche Telekom AG, the parent company of T-Mobile USA, is closing in on a deal to buy MetroPCS. The plan is to merge the smaller rival with T-Mobile, according to informed sources, to boost its flagging cellphone service business in America.

The cellphone services industry has consolidated to a few key players. This potential deal comes a year after a failed attempt to buy AT&T, which antitrust regulators squashed. An agreement could be announced as early as today.

T-Mobile is the fourth-largest wireless operator in America, after Verizon Wireless, At&T, and Sprint Nextel. Shares in Sprint fell yesterday 5.4% on the news, as the potential tie-up leaves the US’s third biggest wireless company vulnerable. Earlier this year, Sprint was in talks to buy MetroPCS, but the deal fell through over board disapproval.