Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son is going to be taking his case for a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile to the public, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
Son, who is also the CEO of Japanese wireless juggernaut and Sprint parent company SoftBank, is slated to speak in front of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on March 11 about the state of the American wireless industry, international competition, and the benefits of increased broadband speeds.
He’s expected to argue that the current state of the wireless industry, with Verizon and AT&T controlling the lion’s share of the market, is leading to lower wireless data speeds and higher prices. In his view, the principles of competition aren’t working in the wireless market right now, and a merger between Sprint and another party would give Sprint the ability to play with the larger companies in the wireless market.
It’s clear Son is going lean on that argument to try and get a deal past U.S. regulators, who have been skeptical about a merger between Bellevue-based T-Mobile and Overland Park, Kansas-based Sprint. Such a move would bring the major players in the U.S. wireless market from four to three, but would give the resulting merged company a subscriber and spectrum base that would allow them to better compete against AT&T and Verizon. It would also potentially wipe out the maverick style of T-Mobile boss John Legere, who is shaking up the dynamics of the staid wireless industry.
Son has been emboldened by the gutsy merger proposal from Comcast and Time Warner Cable. The two companies announced last month that they wanted to join and become the largest broadband provider in the country. While the Comcast deal may seem similar to a merger in the wireless market, it’s possible that federal regulators could see them very differently.
Because Time Warner and Comcast are rarely direct competitors in a particular market, it’s easier for them to argue that the merger wouldn’t hurt competiton in the cable and broadband space. Meanwhile, a merger between Sprint — which last year purchased Bellevue-based Clearwire — and T-Mobile will reduce consumer choice in terms of number of companies available for people to subscribe to.