LOS ANGELES -- Mobile World Congress Americas 2018 -- Sprint executive chairman Marcelo Claure predicted a rosy 5G future if the company's merger with T-Mobile goes through -- and the end of US 5G leadership if the merger fails.
"I want to be very clear: The only way the US remains the leader in 5G is by allowing Sprint and T-Mobile to merge. The combined company is the only US player that has the necessary spectrum assets and strength to build the world's leading 5G network to allow the US to continue its leadership position," Claure said.
That's the bad news. The good news is that the US has a rosy future if the pending merger succeeds, Claure said.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is reviewing the proposed merger and this week halted its informal, 180-day review process -- a.k.a. the "shot clock" -- to give it more time to consider. (See FCC Halts Sprint/T-Mobile M&A Review.)
Claure said, "When this merger gets approved, we will bring to America -- to the world -- the best 5G network, period." Combined, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US Inc. represent the sixth-largest telco in the world. The network will benefit both consumers and competition in the US market, Claure said.
The combined companies will spend almost $40 billion over the next three years to build a 5G network for consumers and businesses across the entire US. The new network will be able to substitute for in-home broadband in many areas, providing additional competition for consumers, particularly in rural areas with few or no options today. More than half of America has only once choice for wireless, broadband, or cable today, Claure said.
The combined company will also offer improved service with lower prices, due to vastly expanded capacity, Claure said.
The merger will create thousands of new jobs, including engineers and construction workers, unlike most mergers, which destroy jobs, Claure said. Many of these jobs will be in rural areas. The two companies will bring jobs back to the US from overseas. The combined company will open 600 new retail stores.
But the merger isn't just about bandwidth, competition and jobs, Claure said. America's very 5G leadership is at stake.
"America cannot afford to lose its leadership in 5G," he said. "4G contributed trillions of dollars to the US economy."
Claure delivered a litany of familiar companies built on 4G networks, including Alphabet Inc. , Facebook and other leaders in the new economy. "Which is why in this country we cannot afford to lose the leadership position that we have attained with 4G," he said. Countries like China and South Korea are angling to grab the 5G crown from the US, which can't be allowed to happen.
Michael Sievert, T-Mobile president and COO, was scheduled to speak at the keynote along with Claure, but Sievert didn't show up. Nobody explained his absence. Maybe Sievert was stocking canned goods and water to get ready for the 5G apocalypse.
Updated 7:09 pm ET: "There was a scheduling conflict, unfortunately," a T-Mobile spokesperson said when asked about Sievert's absence, noting that T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray is scheduled to speak at MWC Americas Thursday. And "many other execs" from T-Mobile are speaking at the conference, the spokesperson said.
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— Mitch Wagner Executive Editor, Light Reading