Light Reading
The CCA's biggest members, Sprint and T-Mobile, are friends with the smaller carriers, but would they turn foe if they joined forces?

Big Fish in the CCA's Pond

Sarah Reedy
3/25/2014
50%
50%

SAN ANTONIO -- CCA Global Expo -- This week, more than 100 rural and regional wireless operators are gathering in San Antonio to discuss some of the wireless issues that are unique to their size and geographies. But two of the CCA's largest members, Sprint and T-Mobile, will also be in attendance, balancing their desire to be the small guys' advocate with a desire to merge to grow larger themselves.

The Competitive Carrier Association (CCA) was founded in 1992 to represent the interest of nine rural telcos, tackling issues such as access to spectrum, access to devices and networks, universal service fund (USF) reform, and Next-Generation 911 solutions. It's since grown to more than 100 members and welcomed larger players T-Mobile US Inc. , Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), and by extension, parent SoftBank Corp. in the last two years. (See LTE: The Bridge to the Digital Divide .)

It creates an interesting dynamic for the industry association. On the one hand, Sprint and T-Mobile are fighting the good fight alongside all the regional carriers against the big two, Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). They have some of the same challenges as well: deploying nationwide LTE networks, getting top-tier handsets out the gate, and affording prime spectrum holdings. They've also been a boon to their smaller peers, supporting LTE roaming and interoperability in 700 MHz and rallying against the "duopoly" of the big two. (See FCC: Act Now as Wireless Duopoly Looms and T-Mobile Spends $2.4B on Verizon Spectrum .)

I just wonder how this protective big brother role might change if the two companies merge, as they've been reportedly plotting a way to do business. Would they still be friends to the weaker telcos or become "bullies" as well? (See Is SoftBank Ready to Reunite With Legere?, Tough Road Ahead for Sprint/T-Mobile?, and Report: SoftBank Preps $19B Bid for T-Mobile.)

Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son will address the CCA crowd on Thursday morning, and while I don't think he'll address this directly, I imagine it'll be an undertone of his speech as it was when he addressed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this month. I'm just not sure if that's a message that would be received well amongst this crowd, which would face an even tougher road without the support of at least two out of four of the big guys. It's a delicate balance to strike. (See SoftBank's Son Keeps Sprint on Short Leash.)

For its part, the CCA says Sprint and T-Mobile have been a great addition to the organization, where each carrier gets one vote regardless of their size. Lucy Tutwiler, the CCA's VP of communications, says the pair has been very involved in the organization's advocacy issues, especially the upcoming broadcast auctions. Both are also sponsoring a session at the show -- Sprint on WiFi integration and T-Mobile on the broadcast incentive auctions.

Light Reading is in San Antonio for the show this week. Check back to the site for coverage of the show's big themes, news from carriers big and small, and, let's be honest, probably some snaps of the Alamo and any carrier execs we can find sporting cowboy boots on the show floor.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
3/25/2014 | 4:59:49 PM
Re: Both ends of the stick
Good call, Ritch. I'll keep my ears open. I did ask Lucy from the CCA what she thought about a merger possibility, and she, of course, couldn't comment, but said they're all eagerly watching to see what it would mean for their members as well.
RitchBlasi
50%
50%
RitchBlasi,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/25/2014 | 2:22:21 PM
Both ends of the stick
You might also want to consider some of the side conversations at the CCA event too.  Like:

If you support the merger we'll put a good word in with Softbank and extend our roaming agreements at lower rates and give you access to more devices.

Maybe we can throw you some of the extra spectrum (in your markets) we'll have to divest.

Would you be interested in being purchased? 

And others.

If the merger doesn't go through, this conference might be moret about potential deal-making in select markets.  The way Softbank is willing to throw money around the deep pockets that were meant for a T-Mo buy could foster a bunch of smaller sales.
SarahReedy
100%
0%
SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
3/25/2014 | 9:01:03 AM
Size matters
I think being in the CCA has been mutually beneficial for the CCA, Sprint and T-Mobile so far. The carriers can play the small carrier card that they can't compete against the big two and the CCA benefits from their size and advocacy on their behalf. I just wonder if that will change if the two merge. Even if they don't change their uncarrier and unlimited ways, their size alone will make them more like the big two and less like the small 100.
More Blogs from Light Reedy
Despite the launch of its new Passport smartphone, BlackBerry needs to embrace a future that's in M2M, messaging and enterprise services.
Vodafone's Dr. Alan Law talks to Light Reading about virtualization, backhaul, SON and more after being appointed chairman of the Small Cell Forum.
Wireless operators are jumping on the mobile music bandwagon, a move that sounds good for many reasons.
The worlds of tennis, fashion and wearables collide as Ralph Lauren and OMsignal turn a polo into a sensor to track your every movement.
The fine print on Sprint's new $60 plan suggests it can prioritize other plans' traffic first – a letdown, and maybe even a net neutrality violation.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Is your network built on 'The Old IP,' or are you part of 'The New IP' revolution?
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Innovating Access Technology With G.fast

10|1|14   |   3.42   |   (0) comments


Exploring the potential of G.fast technology from the point of view of the Broadband Forum, Huawei – and an end-user.
LRTV Documentaries
A Cultural Shift for an OTT World

9|26|14   |   01:41   |   (3) comments


Telcos need to embrace a new approach to partnerships if they are to generate extra revenues quickly and give customers what they want.
LRTV Documentaries
New Skills Needed as Telecom, IT Collide

9|26|14   |   4:07   |   (1) comment


As telecom and IT collide, new technologies are emerging, new skills are needed and new opportunities for women are arising.
UBB Forum News
Do IP Networks Need An Overhaul?

9|25|14   |   02:01   |   (0) comments


As traffic levels ramp, do IP networks need new technologies and topologies?
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint Wields Its Influence in the Valley

9|25|14   |   3:09   |   (11) comments


Anne-Louise Kardas, Sprint's connection to startups in the Valley, explains how telcos can be innovative and find new opportunities with partners.
LRTV Documentaries
SDN, NFV & The Future of XO's Network

9|25|14   |   3:47   |   (1) comment


XO Communications COO Don MacNeil explains how cloud, SDN and NFV are altering its network requirements as well as changing data centers of the future.
UBB Forum News
The OTT Conundrum

9|24|14   |   01:39   |   (0) comments


What is holding back prosperous partnerships between telcos and the OTT players?
LRTV Documentaries
Putting Broadband to Work

9|24|14   |   01:26   |   (0) comments


High-speed broadband network rollout is key to telco strategies, but it's what happens after the network is built that counts.
Light Reedy
Light Reading's Women in Telecom Recap

9|24|14   |   0:55   |   (4) comments


Our first Women in Telecom breakfast was a huge success, and we hope you'll join us in London for the next event on November 6.
UBB Forum News
Monetizing Ultra-Broadband

9|24|14   |   01:43   |   (2) comments


Ultra-broadband networks need to be built, with fiber-to-the-premises the ultimate goal, but they need to be monetized, too.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
Upcoming Live Events
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Half of the world's population will be connected to the Internet by 2017, but not just by smartphones and desktops.
Hot Topics
Facebook Pokes Around LTE Direct
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/25/2014
Is Redbox Instant Shutting Down?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/30/2014
Sprint Wields Its Influence in the Valley
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/25/2014
US Ignite Cultivates Gigabit Apps
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 9/25/2014
Comcast Turns Off Streampix
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/26/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed