Sprint Keynote May Stir Net Neutrality Controversy – MWC 2018

AH Sprint CEO New Marcelo Claure Brightstar

Sprint may be in for some controversy following CEO Marcelo Claure’s comments about net neutrality during the company’s keynote speech at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018. That’s because the U.S. cell service provider had previously remained predominantly neutral on the topic but the executive’s remarks firmly plant the company in agreement with the repeal of the laws in question. The comments came following a question regarding the company’s stance on an open internet and net neutrality principles.

Claure began his response in a relatively neutral fashion by simply indicating that Sprint strongly believes in an open internet. However, he quickly shifted to a more well-defined position, stating that the executive doesn’t see anything wrong with charging a higher price for access to higher speeds on a given network. Claure continued to claim that type of pricing is going to exist in the market regardless because of key factors in consumer economics. By way of example, the executive first pointed to tolled roadways as an example before pointed to Sprint’s pricing for 5G access, which has yet to be determined. Claure says that pricing for 5G will likely be based on the idea that “consumers are willing to pay more for a better service and are willing to pay less for a different type of service.” The CEO concluded his statements by indicating that there needs to be “very light” regulation in order to allow the company to manage its network – which he says is the most important thing for Sprint.

It bears mention that the Sprint Exec’s sentiments on net neutrality laws are not unique amongst others in the industry. Most notably, AT&T and Verizon have also taken similar stances to those presented by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at this year’s event. Meanwhile, the repeal of net neutrality laws has been a significant source of heated debates over the past several months. In fact, while the repeal of net neutrality is still unfinalized, that debate has led to several lawsuits brought against the FCC by attorneys in 22 states. That intensity doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, either. So it’s difficult to imagine Sprint walking away from Claure’s statements unscathed.