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AT&T CFO Says It’d Be “Surprising” If the Sprint/T-Mobile Merger Happened

March 12, 2014 - Written By Alexander Maxham

AT&T’s CFO, John Stephens spoke with Fierce Wireless today, and the topic at hand was the potential merger of the #3 and #4 carriers in the US, Sprint and T-Mobile, respectively. Most of you probably know that AT&T attempted to buy T-Mobile in 2011 for about $39 billion, but the FCC denied the buyout, which saw T-Mobile come out on top, actually. Now Sprint is looking to buy T-Mobile. Sprint’s new owner, Masayoshi Son and Softbank, have been trying to convince the public as well as the regulators that buying T-Mobile is a good thing for competition. And that three heavyweights are better than two big carriers and two smaller ones.

“It would be interesting to see if the government varies from that,” said Stephens, speaking at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference. “I don’t think they will.” He said the industry would have to see what happens, but that it “would be surprising today if they changed or reversed that opinion.” Which is exactly what myself, and several other writers thought when the rumors were circulating that Sprint wants to buy T-Mobile. Simply because the FCC has said for a long time, they want more competition not less, in the wireless industry. However, this deal would create less national networks, it would create a third major player, if everything Son says is true.

Just yesterday, we reported that Son wants to unleash a “massive price war” if he can buy T-Mobile. He also stated in an interview with Bloomberg, that the US has some of the slowest data speeds and some of the highest wireless bills. And that’s something he wants to change, and I stand behind him on that note. I’d love to see faster speeds and lower monthly bills from all four carriers. “We would like to make the deal happen, but there are steps and details that we have to work out.” Stated Masayoshi Son on the Charlie Rose show. “We have to give it a shot.”

Now the words from AT&T’s CFO isn’t all that surprising. Since they tried to buy T-Mobile a couple years ago and was denied. But I’m wondering if Son can convince the FCC and DOJ that buying T-Mobile is good for business. It’s one of those things where we’ll just have to wait and see.