Sprint’s Claure touts a 5G + AI future

Sprint's Marcelo Claure discussed 5G and AI during his keynote presentation. (Mike Dano / FierceWireless)

LOS ANGELES—Sprint’s Marcelo Claure used his appearance here at the MWC Americas trade show to both promote the proposed merger of Sprint and T-Mobile and to paint a picture of the future of the telecom and technology industry. And he said that future centers on the intersection of artificial intelligence and 5G.

Companies that leverage both AI and 5G “are always going to win,” Claure said during his keynote presentation. He likened the embrace of AI and 5G to the cultural transition from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles—that in the coming years AI and 5G will take over the world as an essential tool.

Indeed, Claure channeled the forward-looking attitude of his SoftBank boss Masayoshi Son, predicting that AI will stand as the next major technological revolution for the world, after the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution and the internet revolution.

“What’s coming next is what excites us,” Claure said, explaining that Son and SoftBank are working to bet on the coming AI wave of innovation. Claure’s comments are notable considering he previously served as the CEO of Sprint but following that company’s merger agreement with T-Mobile he was moved into a leadership role within Son’s SoftBank and Michel Combes took over as CEO of Sprint. Claure’s comments also align with the presentation that SoftBank’s Son offered at the spring MWC show last year, in which the Japanese investor presented a 30-year forecast that heavily focused on AI.

Claure, for his part, argued that AI would revolutionize a number of industry sectors. Specifically, he said AI would “destroy” traditional media by creating personalized content, and would also dramatically affect industries like mobility and transportation and healthcare.

“We’re just scratching the surface,” Claure said of those potential impacts of AI.

But Claure also used his MWC Americas appearance to reiterate his arguments for the regulatory approval of the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile. He argued that that merger will create a company that can build a nationwide 5G wireless network that can offer “the highest-capacity mobile network in the United States.” Specifically, he said the network would offer six times the capacity of any other mobile network.

Importantly, Claure also referenced a Bloomberg report that China Telecom and China Unicom are preparing a merger, a situation that could accelerate the deployment of 5G technology in China. He said a merged Sprint and T-Mobile would allow the United States to more effectively compete in the global race to deploy 5G network technology.