In his first speech before a U.S. audience, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son appealed to American exceptionalism to make the case for his Sprint’s much-discussed plan to purchase T-Mobile.
“How can the American people accept the fact that it is No. 15 in the most important information highway in the next century?” Son asked his audience at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, referring to the mobile broadband speed ranking for the United States.
His solution? Another juggernaut to challenge Verizon and AT&T, build infrastructure, and drive down prices. Son didn’t explicitly mention T-Mobile during his speech, but he told reporters after the event that SoftBank has not yet decided to purchase the company.
He hopes to meet again with the U.S. regulators who would have to approve the merger. After earlier meetings, the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department raised antitrust concerns, fearing that a market with fewer carriers would decrease competition. Justice antitrust head Bill Baer has said he prefers a four-carrier marketplace, and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has expressed skepticism about the merger.
Son, who Monday vowed a “price war” if his company is able to purchase T-Mobile, said the merger would give him the size he needs to be a real competitor — and to help U.S. consumers. “We need scale to have a real fight,” Son told reporters. “We need a real heavyweight fight.”
In his speech, he referenced SoftBank’s initial foray into the Japanese broadband market, which “broke the price wall” but initially cost his company billions. That same approach, he said, could be a boon to U.S. consumers if Sprint acquires the resources to compete. “I’d like to be a third alternative with 10 times the speed and lower the price and change the U.S. situation as I did in Japan,” Son said.
U.S. phone users may not realize that their speeds are actually slowing, Son said, comparing them to citizens in Beijing who become so used to smog, they forget there was once clear air. “You have to remember the blue sky,” he said.
Editor’s Note: National Journal President Bruce Gottlieb, who is leaving the company to become an executive vice president with Softbank Inc., played no role in this article and has recused himself from any discussions of National Journal‘s telecommunications coverage.
What We're Following See More »
President Obama has called for a "full review" of the hacking that took place during the 2016 election cycle, according to Obama counterterrorism and homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco. Intelligence officials say it is highly likely that Russia was behind the hacking. The results are not necessarily going to be made public, but will be shared with members of Congress.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) are threatening to block the spending bill—and prevent the Senate from leaving town—"because it would not extend benefits for retired coal miners for a year or pay for their pension plans. The current version of the bill would extend health benefits for four months. ... Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Thursday afternoon moved to end debate on the continuing resolution to fund the government through April 28. But unless Senate Democrats relent, that vote cannot be held until Saturday at 1 a.m. at the earliest, one hour after the current funding measure expires."
The South Korean parliament voted on Friday morning to impeach President Park Geun-hye over charges of corruption, claiming she allowed undue influence to a close confidante of hers. Ms. Park is now suspended as president for 180 days. South Korea's Constitutional Court will hear the case and decide whether to uphold or overturn the impeachment.
Participants in the women's march on Washington the day after inauguration won't have access to the Lincoln Memorial. The National Park Service has "filed documents securing large swaths of the national mall and Pennsylvania Avenue, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial for the inauguration festivities. None of these spots will be open for protesters."