Mar. 11 - SoftBank CEO and Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son says U.S. mobile internet speeds lag the rest of the world, adding a Sprint/T-Mobile merger would change that. Lily Jamali reports.
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son wants to shake up U.S. telecom. Americans pay among the highest rates for internet in the world and yet they get some of the "worst" service, he told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. SOUNDBITE: SOFTBANK CEO MASAYOSHI SON (ENGLISH) SAYING: "How can the American people accept the fact that it is number 15 for the most important highway - the information highway - for the next century? I think we have to change this." Americans now use mobile apps more than PCs as their preferred choice to access the web. "Masa" - as he's known - bought Sprint, becoming chairman, last year. Now he's pursuing a merger with T-Mobile, which would combine the number 3 and 4 largest wireless service providers in the States to compete against AT&T and Verizon. SOUNDBITE: SOFTBANK CEO MASAYOSHI SON (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I'd like to be a third alternative with ten times the speed and lower the price - and change the U.S. situation as i did in Japan." And if he gets the merger, Masa promises a price war. So far, regulators seem set against a Sprint/T-Mobile merger. But Masa says consolidation will boost competition by shrinking the gap between the top two players and their much smaller rivals. Telecom analyst Craig Moffett: SOUNDBITE: CRAIG MOFFETT, ANALYST, MOFFETTNATHANSON (ENGLISH) SAYING: "That's a tough argument to make because on its face - what you're saying is if you allow us to make the market less competitive, it'll be more competitive. And there are plenty who would say that's really not going to fly in Washington." If successful, Moffett says Masa would have to deal with more than the immediate costs of a price war to achieve his vision. Sprint's high-frequency network requires expensive investment to be competitive on the scale he has promised: SOUNDBITE: CRAIG MOFFETT, ANALYST, MOFFETTNATHANSON (ENGLISH) SAYING: "A very high cost proposition and the challenge is - is this opportunity a viable one for a competitor like Sprint?" Without the merger with T-Mobile, Masa maintains the answer - at least for now - is no.