SoftBank's Son to outline views on U.S. wireless industry in speech next week

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son will outline his views on the state of the U.S. mobile industry during a speech next week that will likely be pored over for clues as to whether or how intensely SoftBank-owned Sprint (NYSE:S) will push for a deal with No. 4 player T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS).

Son will speak on March 11 in Washington at the Chamber of Commerce to discuss "the state of America's wireless communications industry and the competitive global landscape," according to an invitation sent to news outlets. As Reuters notes, the presentation to lawmakers, educators and business leaders will be Son's first public speech to a U.S. audience since SoftBank's $21.6 billion deal to acquire around 80 percent of No. 3 U.S. carrier Sprint last year.

The invitation does not specifically mention Sprint or T-Mobile. According to the invitation, Son's presentation on "the promise of mobile Internet in driving American innovation, the economy and education" will focus on "the crucial role of ultra-fast wireless broadband communications in driving innovation, commerce and education--in the U.S. and around the globe."

Multiple reports have indicated that Son and Sprint CEO Dan Hesse met in recent weeks with antitrust regulators at the Department of Justice as well as FCC Chairman Tom wheeler to gauge potential regulatory responses to a Sprint/T-Mobile deal. Reports have indicated that while Wheeler said he would keep an open mind on any potential deal, both Wheeler and officials at the DOJ have expressed strong skepticism for a transaction between the carriers. Sprint and T-Mobile have steadfastly declined to comment on the speculation.

Last month Son said without consolidation no company can close the gap with Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T). While declining to comment specifically on a deal with No. 4 player T-Mobile, Son made clear he was pushing for a merger. "Without industry consolidation, for Sprint alone to become No. 1 in the U.S. is literally just a dream," he said, according to Bloomberg. "I'm not content for Sprint to remain No. 3 because if we could grow bigger, we will offer aggressive discounts and services, just like we did in Japan."

"Every time I make a business trip to the U.S., I am reminded how terrible connections are there," he said during a news conference in February, according to the Wall Street Journal. "The U.S. has one of the world's highest mobile fees," and competition isn't working, he said.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article

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SoftBank's Son pushes for U.S. wireless consolidation
Sprint beats analyst expectations with 477,000 new subscribers in Q4
Sprint, SoftBank execs to reconsider T-Mobile bid, according to report
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