& cplSiteName &

Big Fish in the CCA's Pond

Sarah Thomas
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        ADD A COMMENT
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
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.
Sarah Thomas
100%
0%
Sarah Thomas,
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 Que Sera Sarah
Congratulations to AT&T's Anne Chow, CableLab's Dr. Jennifer Andreoli-Fang and Movandi's Maryam Rofougaran, our 2018 WiC Leading Lights winners.
Heavy hitters in cable, open source and optical networking make up the five women who are shortlisted for the Hedy Lamarr-inspired Female Tech Pioneer of the Year category.
Four worthy women from the worlds of cable, the enterprise, data centers and B/OSS make our shortlist for the year's Most Inspiring Woman in Comms.
Libelium and Movandi and their founders are pioneering new technologies that are already changing the game for IoT and 5G, respectively, making them startups you want to keep an eye on in 2018 and beyond.
Ten worthy women and two trailblazing startups made the shortlist this year for Women in Comms' Leading Lights awards. Winners will be unveiled soon at BCE.
Featured Video
From The Founder
John Chambers is still as passionate about business and innovation as he ever was at Cisco, finds Steve Saunders.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
June 26, 2018, Nice, France
September 12, 2018, Los Angeles, CA
September 24-26, 2018, Westin Westminster, Denver
October 9, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
October 17, 2018, Chicago, Illinois
October 23, 2018, Georgia World Congress Centre, Atlanta, GA
November 7-8, 2018, London, United Kingdom
November 8, 2018, The Montcalm by Marble Arch, London
November 15, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
December 4-6, 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
NFV Is Down but Not Out
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/22/2018
What VeloCloud Cost VMware
Phil Harvey, US News Editor, 5/21/2018
Trump Denies ZTE Deal, Faces Senate Backlash
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/22/2018
5G in the USA: A Post-BCE Update
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/23/2018
Here Comes DOCSIS 4.0
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 5/22/2018
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed