Hopefully, you were following along with our CTIA 2011 liveblog and watched the CEOs of AT&T, Sprint and Verizon discuss the industry and you would have seen Sprint CEO Dan Hesse sticking it to the competition. Not only did he crack wise about AT&T’s “4G” network, he flat-out said that the AT&T, T-Mobile deal would be bad for innovation.
During the CTIA 2011 keynote, AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega talked about the benefits to consumers about the pending acquisition of T-Mobile. One of his major points was that this deal would allow the company to bring 4G LTE to over 95% of America.
“I thought you (AT&T) and T-Mobile already had 4G,” Hesse deadpanned to a delighted audience.
T-Mobile first started the 4G name game by labeling its HSPA+ network “4G” and this was eventually approved by standards bodies. This caused AT&T to call its HSPA+ network “4G” as well, even if the results haven’t always been great. AT&T will be rolling out 4G LTE this year and the T-Mobile buy gives it precious spectrum to do so across the nation, in a more comprehensive way.
This wasn’t the first time that Sprint CEO Hesse made the room laugh, as he first said that his opinion of the deal didn’t matter, as the FCC and Department of Justice would probably have more to say. When pressed on it, he did say that having 79% of the post-paid U.S. market consolidated into two players could hurt innovation and could be bad for the industry as a whole.
Sprint CEO Hesse’s remarks aren’t very surprising, as the company has issued a statement to the same effect. It was quite fun to hear him say it directly to de la Vega’s face though.
As for Verizon, CEO Dan Mead seemed pretty relaxed on stage (he looked like he could be poolside) and he said Big Red wouldn’t waste its time fighting the merger. Instead, Mead said Verizon is confident in its 4G LTE strategy and spectrum, so it likely won’t have a problem with the deal, other than market-by-market quibbles.
The fun is just getting started folks, follow all of our CTIA 2011 coverage here.