Sprint CEO Dan Hesse still says wireless consolidation in the U.S. would be a good thing — just as long as it doesn’t involve AT&T and Verizon.
During the company’s fourth quarter earnings call today for 2013, Hesse reiterated his belief that consolidation outside of the two biggest carriers, AT&T and Verizon, would be “good for the dynamic, good for the country, and good for consumers.”
And of course, it would also be good for Sprint, which has been mulling an acquisition of T-Mobile for the past few months. But while Hesse is gung-ho about uniting the wireless market, U.S. regulators aren’t so keen. According to a report yesterday, Sprint has been facing stiff opposition from the FCC and Justice Department when it comes to getting the T-Mobile acquisition approved.
The big stopping block? U.S. regulators like the idea of having four large wireless carriers. That was also one of the big reasons AT&T’s $39 billion T-Mobile acquisition fell apart several years ago.
Despite reaching its highest-ever subscriber count of 53.9 million customers last quarter, Sprint still ended up reporting a $1 billion loss, making it the only major carrier to report a loss for the past quarter. It turns out that Sprint likely needs T-Mobile more than T-Mobile needs Sprint.
Hesse’s comments make it seem as if he’s ready to fight regulator opposition to the T-Mobile deal — though that probably isn’t a wise strategy. It’s tough to sway regulators once they seem cemented against anti-competitive deals, and Sprint (along with its majority stakeholder Softbank) would be better off figuring out more constructive ways to stem its losses.