Dan Hesse, the boss of US mobile carrier Sprint Nextel, reckons the best way to provide significant and viable competition to the behemoths that are AT&T and Verizon is for other mobile network operators to consolidate - so there'll be three big players for the put-upon American consumers to pick from rather than just two. What an embarrassment of riches. By Martyn Warwick.
Furthermore, Mr. Hesse believes that the Department of Justice and the regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will "be open" to a wheeze so cunning they could pin a tail on it and call it a fox.
Speaking yesterday at the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference. Mr. Hesse opined, "I actually believe that Washington would be receptive to consolidation to provide more balance to the big two. I honestly believe that both the Department of Justice and the FCC have a very open mind with respect to any industry consolidation and want to see a competitive industry."
Mr. Hesse also believes that US regulators don't have in mind an specific "ideal" number of mobile network operators to serve the nation. Received wisdom has long been that the powers-that-be have decided amongst themselves that competition and user satisfaction would be best served if the US had four mobile players of national status.
Mr. Hesse begs to differ. He says, ""I honestly don't believe there's a magic number of four at all. The regulators just want to make sure that the top two mobile carriers, Verizon and AT&T respectively, aren't involved in any huge deal."
Interestingly, Dan Hesse doesn't want his company to be part of any sort of consolidation, merger of acquisition any time soon. Strange that. He rationalised, "Clearly, the time [for a merger] is not ideal based upon where our shares are currently trading" but he does think the stars might be in alignment by 2014. It's all very reminiscent of St Augustine's prayer, "O Lord, make me chaste, but not yet."
Mr. Hesse's Damascene conversion is remarkable. Only last year when the US regulators stymied AT&T's attempt to acquire T-Mobile Hesse was there yelling the odds from the rooftops and condemning the proposed deal from the second it hit the newswires.
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