“We frankly don’t care,” is Verizon’s CEO Lowell McAdam’s response to the recently announced plan for competitors Sprint and T-Mobile to merge. His comment came during an interview ahead of the carrier’s annual shareholder’s meeting, according to the Seattle Times. McAdam had been asked to comment on the impending arrival of a sizable new competitor, and added, “We don’t have a point of view on whether it goes through or it doesn’t.”
The T-Mobile and Sprint merger has been tried twice before. Neither time has resulted in success, but this time it seems both firms have agreed on terms and conditions. The new company will be called T-Mobile, and will be home to 126 million customers, or around 25 million fewer than U.S. market leader Verizon. T-Mobile CEO John Legere called it, “A larger, stronger competitor that will be a force for positive change.”
While Verizon’s CEO is publicly nonplussed about the merger, expect a considerably increased amount of hype — as if it was needed — around 5G technology in the near future. Verizon considers itself the most prepared of the competition when it comes to the next generation of wireless connectivity. T-Mobile and Sprint are using 5G as a major selling point of the merger, and Legere is rarely quiet about anything that helps sell his company to customers, and in this case, regulators overlooking the merger.
“Services are going to be broadened, prices are going to go down, speeds are going to go up. If you liked the competition before, you’re going to love what’s coming with this one,” he proclaimed to CNBC. Moving on to 5G, he said, “We are behind. It’s the early innovation cycle of 5G. We are behind China. This is not something we can allow.” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure agreed: “The U.S. needs to lead in 5G. The only want to lead 5G is by combining Sprint and T-Mobile. AT&T cannot do it. Verizon cannot do it.”
Unsurprisingly, Verizon’s McAdam doesn’t see it that way. He estimated to GeekWire a merged T-Mobile and Sprint will take two years to get up and running, and Verizon will make the most out of that time. He summarized his feelings by saying, “I don’t think the merger matters from a 5G perspective.”
It’s not the first time Verizon has talked up its 5G prowess. At a telecoms conference in March, Verizon Wireless president Ronan Dunne said the carrier would deliver the best service in 5G, like it had done with 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE. “That’s one thing you can be absolutely certain about. Everything else will be fake news,” he’s quoted as saying. Like Verizon, AT&T also plans a limited launch of 5G in several U.S. cities this year.
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