NEW YORK (AP) — The parent of cellphone company T-Mobile USA on Tuesday said it's in talks to buy smaller MetroPCS Communications Inc., a deal that could shore up two struggling smaller players in the U.S. wireless industry.

Deutsche Telekom AG, the German company that owns T-Mobile USA, said "significant issues have not yet been finalized" and no decision has been made on a deal. MetroPCS also confirmed the talks.

T-Mobile USA is the country's fourth-largest cellphone company, with 33.2 million subscribers. Adding the 9.3 million subscribers of Dallas-based MetroPCS, the industry's No. 5, would still leave T-Mobile trailing No. 3 Sprint Nextel Corp.

However, the deal would give T-Mobile access to more space on the airwaves, a critical factor as cellphone carriers try to expand their capacity for wireless broadband. Last year, AT&T struck a deal to buy T-Mobile USA for $39 billion for much the same reason. That deal was shot down by regulators, who believed competition would suffer if the second-largest cellphone company were to gobble up the fourth-largest.

Regulatory concerns would be much milder over a T-Mobile-MetroPCS combination. Both companies are relatively small, and Bellevue, Wash.-based T-Mobile USA has been losing subscribers for the last two years.

Bloomberg News reported earlier on the deal, and said Deutsche Telekom's board was set to vote on it Wednesday. Before the report, MetroPCS had a market capitalization of $4.2 billion. Its shares rose to $1.95, or 17 percent, to $13.47 in afternoon trading after rising earlier as high as $14.51, the highest level in more than a year.

Deutsche Telekom shares rose 2 percent in European trading. It has a market capitalization of $54.5 billion.

A linkup would be complicated by the fact that MetroPCS and T-Mobile USA use different network technologies. That means MetroPCS phones would not work on T-Mobile USA's network, and vice versa. However, both companies are deploying the same "fourth-generation" or "4G" technology, so they're on a path to harmonizing their networks.

Analyst Kevin Smithen at Macquarie Securities said the combination of the two networks would be "very complicated," and would still leave T-Mobile as a relatively small player struggling against industry leaders Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc.

"A combination of two subscale struggling competitors will not result in a credible long-term competitor," he said.

Sprint shares fell 25 cents, or 4.8 percent, to $4.93. There had been speculation that Sprint would buy MetroPCS. If the T-Mobile deal is consummated, Sprint would instead face tougher competition, particularly in the market for cheap, no-contract "prepaid" service.

"Now Sprint is left at the altar and is facing what is almost certainly a more challenging industry structure," said Sanford Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett.



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  • Don't Wait To Charge

    Charge your phone frequently. Recharging when the phone is almost dead too often will make the battery do more work and lower its life expectancy. Charge when your phone is 40 percent full, not 10 percent.

  • Don't Vibrate

    It takes more energy for the phone to vibrate than to ring.

  • Kill Unnecessary Apps

    Apps running in the background of your phone will make it run out of juice faster. Shut down all the apps you don't need to keep it going a little longer.

  • Turn Off Wi-Fi

    If you don't need to download big files, and you aren't performing some crucial task online, turning off WiFi will let the battery rest.

  • Disable Location Services

    Apps that use location are constantly communicating with cell towers to pinpoint where you are. While they're doing it, your battery is dying. Turn them off in settings when you need to get that last bit of life.

  • Dim The Screen

    Dim the brightness of your screens to give battery life a boost. Lowering the default brightness will ensure that the phone uses less charge over time.

  • Lock Your Screen

    Locking the screen on your phone not only keeps strangers from snooping, but will also keep the phone from turning on--and using power--if it accidentally brushes up against things.

  • Get Accessories

    While some people already tote around chargers in the dire case that their phone might die, an easier way to prepare is to outfit your phone with a "battery extender case" that packs a spare battery within its skin. When your phone's battery runs out, it will draw power from the case battery.

  • Get A New Battery

    After two years, there's a good chance your battery is running on its last legs. At this point, it might be better to replace it in order to get the full battery life you once had.

  • Put The Phone In Airplane Mode

    Even when you're not up in the air, putting your phone in Airplane Mode will keep the battery from dying, as it prevents the phone from receiving and sending signals. Of course, when it's in Airplane Mode you won't be able to call, text, or get online, so this may be a last resort.

  • Keep Your Battery Cool

    Overheating can damage your phone's battery cells and make it die faster after a charge. Keep your phone out of the sun and other hot places. A phone that gets too hot while in use could be experiencing some kind of charge malfunction and should be checked out.

  • Turn Off Push Notifications

    The function that allows your phone to automatically download new email, and notifications from third-party apps, also makes your battery run out faster. If your phone's almost dead, go to settings to turn off this feature.