Sprint and T-Mobile Merger: Son on the Offensive Again
Despite concerns over regulatory hurdles, SoftBank chief executive and Sprint chairman Masayoshi Son reiterated the need for a merger with T-Mobile and praised the fellow carrier at Re/code's Code Conference in California Wednesday.
Son blasted the U.S. wireless industry for its archaic framework and once again expressed the need for a stronger third party to compete with the "duopoly" of AT&T and Verizon.
"We need scale," Son said without directly referring to joining forces with T-Mobile.
Instead, Son referred to T-Mobile by saying, "I strongly admire them. I strongly admire the price disruption." Son added that he "highly admired" eccentric T-Mobile CEO John Legere, who is widely expected to take the reins of a combined Sprint and T-Mobile company.
"That's amazing because I was just saying how much I admire him too," Legere responded in an email statement to CNET.
This isn't the first time the two have agreed. Both executives have expressed distaste at the current state of the U.S. wireless industry, stating that unless something is done to help the smaller guys compete against the juggernauts of AT&T and Verizon, little growth can be achieved in the long run.
"I brought the network war and price war (to Japan). I'd like to bring that to the States," Son said at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to industry officials in March. "I would like to provide an alternative to the oligopolistic situation that two-thirds of American households can only get access to one or two providers. I'd like to be a third alternative with 10 times the speed and lower price."
"If the government wants us to have a competitive environment, you are going to make sure that the duopoly doesn't use their prowess to crush the little guys and have this sub-1 GHz spectrum be moved all to them," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere in an interview on television show Bloomberg West earlier this year.
"We're all going to need better scale and capability. The question starts to be: How do you take the maverick and supercharge it? We either need more spectrum and capability, a lot more investment, or we need consolidation."
Still, despite the convincing argument that AT&T and Verizon are too big (even after combining, Sprint and T-Mobile would have less customers than AT&T alone), the merger faces opposition from U.S. government regulators. Both the FCC and U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust division have said they would like to refrain from consolidating the market from four to three national carriers.
"The regulation in this country is wrong," Son said at the Recode Code Conference, adding that although the United States invented the Internet, speeds in the country are ranked 15 out of the top 16 countries in the world.
Son also said that he would abide by net neutrality.
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