After Sunday’s huge news that AT&T would be purchasing T-Mobile, instantly making it the largest wireless carrier in the US, it seemed like two things were assured. First, the wireless industry competition and consumer groups would object to this move on anti-competitive grounds. Second, if the sale goes through, a Verizon purchase of Sprint seemed […]
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Verizon CEO Not Interested in Buying Sprint?

After Sunday’s huge news that AT&T would be purchasing T-Mobile, instantly making it the largest wireless carrier in the US, it seemed like two things were assured. First, the wireless industry competition and consumer groups would object to this move on anti-competitive grounds. Second, if the sale goes through, a Verizon purchase of Sprint seemed like a foregone conclusion.

While Dan Hesse of Sprint and many in both the mobile technology industry and mainstream media have followed the script and raised red flags over the prospect of a single, giant GSM carrier, Verizon Wireless CEO Daniel Mead seems to be marching to his own beat at this point. He commented on the potential sale of T-Mobile to AT&T in an interview with Reuters in advance of CTIA.

On the subject of regulatory approval of such a large move, Mr Mead said that Verizon would not take any action in opposition of the sale. Elaborating further, he seemed resigned to the fact that it would eventually be approved saying that, “anything can go through if you make enough concessions.”

While I wouldn’t expect a CEO of  what is currently the largest wireless carrier in the US to come right out a announce plans to buy up Sprint, I was expecting the more typical coy and evasive corporate-speak type of response that leaves all options open. That was not the approach that Mr Mead took, coming out and aggressively shooting down any talk of a move on Sprint, saying, “We’re not interested in Sprint. We don’t need them.” He also stated that Verizon was more focused on being the most profitable US wireless carrier than on size.

In my opinion, Mr Mead’s comments are a little bit of positive news after AT&T’s almost universally disliked move to buy T-Mobile. While there is no guarantee that Verizon will stick to this course over the long term, it is a little re-assuring that they also aren’t looking at making a knee jerk move to quickly gobble up the last remaining big piece on the board. Several of us here at iSource weighed in with our opinions on the AT&T/T-Mobile marriage, including myself,  and many of us were concerned with the implications in the wake of the news. Rob and I, as well as many others in the tech blogosphere, seemed to think that a Verizon purchase of Sprint would be the obvious next move. Sprint’s increasingly weakened position, paired with Verizon’s potential desire to remain the biggest game in town seemed to make it an obvious conclusion, at the time.

This is one time I will gladly admit to being wrong, as that means a little better news for consumers. I was pleased to hear Daniel Mead come out and set Verizon’s position immediately, which has added a little stability to what would have become a volatile situation at the top of the wireless food chain. Sprint has been in a state of flux for a while now, as both their merger with Nextel and their early selection of ClearWire’s WiMax 4G technology have not produced the results I’m sure stockholders had hoped for. They are mired in a now distant third place in the US market, and have several decisions to make on how to proceed into the future. If Mr Mead had not come out and clarified Verizon’s position so pointedly, there would have been constant speculation on the futures of the two leading US CDMA carriers. At least now, we have some hope that the future will leave us with a little more competition, and at least one major value carrier in the US wireless market.

 

 

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