| NEW YORK, March 10
NEW YORK, March 10 T-Mobile US expects
to engage in some form of cellular industry consolidation, the
CFO of the United States' fourth-largest carrier said on Monday,
boosting investor expectations that a merger with Sprint Corp
could be on the horizon.
"It is not a question of if, it is a question of when,"
Braxton Carter said about the company's prospects for
consolidation at a media, internet and telecom conference.
"To take a third-scale national player that has the scale
benefits with the right business model could be very
competitively enhancing in the U.S.," he said.
The comments come on the eve of an address by the president
of SoftBank Corp, which owns 80 percent of Sprint, to
investors and technology policymakers in Washington on Tuesday.
Hopes for a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile, the No.3 and
No.4 U.S. mobile service providers, faded last month when
reports surfaced that the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal
Communications Commission would look skeptically on a merger.
U.S. regulators previously rejected AT&T Inc's $39
billion takeover bid for T-Mobile US in 2011. They have since
argued that T-Mobile US has grown stronger, proving that the
market can sustain four companies.
Carter said that if the government wants to preserve
competition it must prevent the country's two largest carriers,
AT&T and Verizon, from dominating spectrum auctions.
"The government can't have their cake and eat it too. If
they think there really needs to be four players in this market
on a nationwide basis, they are going to have to put some
structural protections to ensure an adequate distribution of
spectrum," he said.
Deutsche Telekom, T-mobile's majority owner, said
last week that it would be open to a potential consolidation in
the U.S. mobile market but that it was in no hurry.
"At the moment we have no difficulties to run T-Mobile US on
a stand-alone basis," Deutsche Telekom's Chief Executive Tim
Hoettges told a news conference.
"If a consolidation in the U.S. mobile market will take
place, we will enter that phase with an open mind," he added.
Carter's remarks also came despite a string of tweets last
week by T-mobile's outspoken CEO, John Legere, berating Sprint.
"Remember when people actually liked @sprint? Yeah, me
either," Legere tweeted.