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 »
The House voted down the otherwise uncontroversial Energy and Water appropriations bill Thursday after Democrats succeeded in attaching an amendment affirming LGBT job discrimination protections for military contractors. More than 40 Republicans supported the amendment, but when it came to vote on the bill, 130 Republicans joined all but six Democrats to sink the bill. Speaker Paul Ryan said Democrats voting against the bill after securing the amendment shows their intention was to scuttle the process. Democrats, however, blamed other so-called poison-pill amendments for their votes against the bill. Nonetheless, Ryan said he intends to continue the appropriations process.
"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.
"Airport screening delays have caused more than 70,000 American Airlines customers and 40,000 checked bags to miss their flights this year, an executive for the airline told a U.S. congressional subcommittee on Thursday. A shortage of staff and a surge in air travelers have created a nightmare scenario for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), with airport wait times in places like Chicago stretching beyond two hours."
"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."