Apr 29, 2018

T-Mobile and Sprint’s pitch to DC: Good for America

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The CEOs of T-Mobile and Sprint argued on an analyst call that their just-announced merger would create jobs and boost America's position in the global race toward 5G wireless.

Why it matters: It sounds like their regulatory pitch will align with Trump administration rhetoric.

The big picture: Regulators have to decide whether they're all right with the prospect of only three major wireless providers in the United States. T-Mobile and Spring argue that the industry has undergone significant changes, as telecoms get into new industries like pay television and non-wireless providers get into the mobile space.

  • Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said that this is the "merger that regulators are looking for."
  • Company officials argued that the deal could result in cheaper prices at AT&T and Verizon.
  • The CEOs have already spoke with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the agency's other commissioners.

The details:

  • Executives stressed the deal would help America outpace China and others in 5G wireless development. "The combination of the 600 megahertz [in wireless spectrum] and other assets that we have are critical building blocks of what America needs to deploy to take its rightful place," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere.
  • Many in D.C. worry about China outpacing America in 5G development. Earlier this year, a now-departed senior official in the National Security Council circulated a plan to nationalize a 5G network.
  • The company's project job growth in retail and customer service operations, with an emphasis on rural areas.

Regulators haven't always been comfortable with consolidation of this kind, and there will be plenty of critics this time around.

  • "This combination will not only result in less choice for consumers, it will provide greater incentive for the 3 remaining companies to act in concert," said Gigi Sohn, who served as a senior staffer for the last FCC chairman, who was pleased when Sprint dropped a potential T-Mobile merger in 2014.
  • Both the FCC and the Justice Department declined to comment.

More: Sprint, T-Mobile agree to merge to form $146 billion company

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  3. Trump admin latest: Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill.
  4. Federal government latest: Senate looks to increase coronavirus relief for small businesses this week — Testing capacity is still lagging far behind demand.
  5. World update: China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown.
  6. Environment latest: Coronavirus patients in more polluted parts of the U.S. are more likely to die from the illness than those in cleaner areas, according to a new Harvard University analysis.
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Pelosi calls for removal of acting Navy secretary

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday called for the firing or resignation of acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, following his decision to relieve Capt. Brett Crozier from his command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt last week.

Why it matters: Pelosi said Modly "showed a serious lack of the sound judgment and strong leadership" in firing Crozier, who wrote a letter pleading for help in battling a coronavirus outbreak onboard the ship. The letter was leaked to the press, leading to Crozier's ouster.

Schiff demands that Grenell explain Trump's purge of inspectors general

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to the acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell on Tuesday demanding he turn over documents explaining his management of the intelligence community amid concerns of the politicization of the agency.

Why it matters: The letter, which calls for a response by April 16, comes as President Trump continues his purge of inspectors general across the federal government that he deems disloyal to his administration.