This week I was fortunate enough to be invited to Sprint’s campus in Kansas City to take part in a media device development tour. And CEO Dan Hesse had a few minutes to stop by and share his thoughts on AT&T’s bid to acquire T-Mobile and where Sprint stands in the 4G race. Of course, Hesse is against the deal from Sprint’s perspective, but he says he worries just as much about the impact that the combined carrier would have on innovation and consumer choice. In essence, his take is that innovation will basically stall because there will be one less player.
Here are just a few of the choice words Hesse has about AT&T and T-Mobile coming together and the impact it will have on consumers:
“It will be the end of the wireless industry as we know it.”
“There would be no 4G in the U.S. even today if it wasn’t for Sprint.”
“If this thing goes through we hope you like 4G because it’s probably the last generation you’re going to get.”
It’s easy to dismiss these remarks as mere lobbying, but it’s reasonable to assume that consumers wouldn’t have seen something as groundbreaking as the EVO 4G as early as last summer. Over the next couple days I’ll be learning more about how Sprint decides which devices it carriers, and Hesse’s point is that the lives of consumers–and tech journalists–will be a lot less interesting if AT&T and T-Mobile come together.
At the same time, Sprint has come under fire for not pushing the 4G envelope as much as T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless in terms of new markets, and Hesse admitted that most of that has to do with economics. But the CEO said that the carrier will have some 4G news this fall in regards to its continued buildout. Sprint’s position is that it’s not necessarily wedded to Mobile WiMax, so don’t be surprised to see the carrier talk about how LTE technology will fit into its Network Vision Strategy.