Verizon has been investing heavily in its 5G technology, and CEO Lowell McAdam said he feels it is solidly ahead of its competitors.
Verizon does not plan to oppose T-Mobile’s proposed deal to merge with Sprint, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said Wednesday, adding that his company is not concerned about the potential of a larger competitor.
“We don’t have a point of view on whether it goes through or it doesn’t,” he said in an interview a day before Verizon’s annual shareholders meeting in Renton. “We frankly don’t care.”
Verizon has been investing heavily in its 5G technology, and McAdam said he feels it is solidly ahead of its competitors in developing and implementing the next-generation superfast connections that carriers are building out this year.
Bellevue-based T-Mobile and Sprint announced on Sunday a plan to combine in a $26.5 billion deal that would keep the T-Mobile brand intact. The companies have attempted a deal twice before — once it was shot down by federal regulators, and once they couldn’t agree on terms.
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The third time may be the charm under a Trump administration regulatory environment that many believe is more receptive to these types of deals than the federal government has been in years past.
T-Mobile and Sprint have portrayed the merger as the best possible outcome for consumers when it comes to 5G technology. The technology will be expensive to build out, and together the companies would be able to push the industry forward, executives from both companies said when announcing the merger.
The Trump administration expressed support for 5G investments this week, with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross saying it was a priority for the administration. He also seemed to suggest to CNBC that T-Mobile and Sprint’s message was working. “I think the pitch that Sprint and T-Mobile are making is an interesting one, that their merger would propel Verizon and AT&T into more active pursuit of 5G,” Ross said.
McAdam said that T-Mobile and Sprint’s implication that Verizon was waiting around for a competitor to encourage it to invest in 5G “is frankly silly.”
Verizon has been partnering with Samsung and others to test 5G in homes, or “fixed” 5G, in a couple U.S. cities. It plans to launch the service to customers in three to five cities, including Sacramento, California, before the end of the year, he said.
“Our view is we’re going to push like heck down this path of 5G,” McAdam said.
Once fixed 5G service is launched, mobile 5G connectivity will be only about six months behind, McAdam said.
That market — giving customers access to ultrafast speeds even on the go — is where T-Mobile has been investing its resources. T-Mobile CEO John Legere has criticized Verizon and other competitors in the past for focusing on the fixed service rather than mobile.
McAdam and Legere do agree on at least one thing, though.
Both believe that even if a Sprint-T-Mobile merger goes through, there will be more than three competitors in the wireless market. Cable companies, such as Comcast and Charter Communications, as well as video companies are part of the pool now, they have both said.
McAdam pointed to a news article he read Wednesday morning that said the industry would have three main players if the T-Mobile-Sprint deal was approved.
“Somebody missed their math,” he said.
McAdam on Thursday will preside over Verizon’s annual meeting. The New Jersey-based company has been holding its shareholders meeting each year in a different part of the country where it has employees. Verizon has more than 1,100 employees in Washington state, mostly working in retail and on its network.