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
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.
Verizon is reportedly working with an industry consortium to launch its own app store, but past efforts suggest it's not a smart move for the operator.
Join us Thursday at 12:00 p.m. EST for a live chat with Heavy Reading's Roz Roseboro about how NFV is changing data center requirements and operations.
Nokia's new parent is still figuring out its mobile story, as it launches a new low-end phone weeks after saying it was done with low-end phones.
With Sprint CEO Dan Hesse heading for the exit door, we look back at his six-and-a-half year tenure, from Nextel, to WiMax, and those unforgettable black-and-white commercials.
Flash Poll
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX – Live from the Show

8|21|14   |   5:58   |   (0) comments


An overview of VeEX Test and Measurement solutions including TX300S multi-service test set with VeExpress cloud-based management system, UX400 universal modular platform supporting 100G testing, and the redesigned RXT modular platform.
LRTV Custom TV
Transitioning CE 2.0 Networks Into the SDN & NFV Era With Telco Systems

8|19|14   |   5:19   |   (0) comments


Telco Systems' Ariel Efrati (CEO) and Moshe Shimon (VP of Product Management) discuss virtualization and how the company's new Open Metro Edge solution utilizes the SDN and NFV concepts to accelerate and orchestrate service delivery through its innovative product portfolio and software applications.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Myths: Is NFV Still Several Years Away?

8|11|14   |   1:13   |   (0) comments


Some say that NFV (network functions virtualization) is still several years away from being implemented on mobile operator networks. This isn't the case. Operators can get started on their paths to NFV now, as this short video from Skyfire shows.
LRTV Custom TV
A New Security Paradigm in SDN/NFV

7|28|14   |   02:54   |   (0) comments


Paul Shaneck, Global Director Network Solutions for Symantec, discusses the evolving virtualized network, explaining how Symantec is leading the security discussion as it relates to SDN and NFV, and helping to ensure the network is protected and compliant.
LRTV Documentaries
Sprint's Network Evolution

7|24|14   |   14:59   |   (0) comments


Sprint's Jay Bluhm gives a keynote speech at the Big Telecom Event (BTE) about Sprint's network and services evolution strategy, including Spark.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE Keynote: The Software-Defined Operator

7|24|14   |   18:43   |   (1) comment


Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg explains the concept of the software-defined operator to the Big Telecom Event (BTE) crowd.
Light Reedy
Numbers Are In: LR's 2014 Salary Survey

7|24|14   |   1:25   |   (7) comments


Our fourth annual Salary Survey paints a picture of who's hiring, firing, earning, and yearning for a change in the telecom industry.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving the Network Transformation

7|23|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


Intel's Sandra Rivera discusses network transformation and how Intel technologies, programs, and standards body efforts have helped the industry migration to SDN and NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed NFV-Based Business Services by RAD

7|18|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


With the ETSI-approved Distributed NFV PoC running in the background, RAD's CEO, Dror Bin, talks about why D-NFV makes compelling sense for service providers, and about the dollars and cents RAD is putting behind D-NFV.
LRTV Custom TV
MRV Accelerating Packet Optical Convergence

7|15|14   |   6:06   |   (0) comments


Giving you network insight to make your network smarter.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV-Enabled Ethernet for Generating New Revenues

7|15|14   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Cyan's Planet Orchestrate allows service providers and their end-customers to activate software-based capabilities such as firewalls and encryption on top of existing Ethernet services in just minutes.
LRTV Custom TV
Symkloud NVF-Ready Video Transcoding, Big Data

7|9|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments


Kontron and ISV partner Vantrix demonstrate high-performance video transcoding and data analytic solutions on same 2U standard platform that is ready for SDN and NFV deployments made by mobile, cable and cloud operators.
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 16, 2014, Santa Clara, CA
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Today's Cartoon
Hot Topics
Level 3 Does Big Data Differently
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/21/2014
Comcast Streams Back to School
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 8/21/2014
Sprint Drops Prices, But Also Speeds?
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 8/21/2014
Line-Powered Phone Lines: A Hot Topic Again
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 8/20/2014
A New Verizon App Store? Say It Ain't So
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 8/20/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed