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CNBC Transcript: Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure Speaks with CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” Today

WHEN: Today, Thursday, August 18th

WHERE: CNBC's "Squawk Alley"

Following T-Mobile CEO John Legere's comments regarding Marcelo Claure this morning, the Sprint CEO spoke with CNBC's "Squawk Alley" (M-F, 11AM-12PM ET) today, Thursday, August 18th. Following is the unofficial transcript of the interview and a link to the interview on CNBC.com: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000544132 and http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000544135.

All references must be sourced to CNBC.

CARL QUINTANILLA: WELCOME TO "SQUAWK ALLEY" FOR A THURSDAY. KAYLA IS OUT TODAY, BUT WITH US THIS MORNING, JON FORTT OF COURSE AND SARA EISEN AT POST9, ON A DAY WHERE THE MARKETS AREN'T MOVING A WHOLE LOT.

SARA EISEN: FUN DAY.

QUINTANILLA: DOW IS UP 25. BUT AN INTERESTING SKIRMISH IN THE TELECOM WARS. MOMENTS AGO, T-MOBILE CEO JOHN LEGERE JOINED US ON THIS PROGRAM. TALKED ABOUT A NEW UNLIMITED DATA PLAN AS WELL AS THE ON GOING RIVALRY WITH SPRINT. TAKE A LISTEN.

SOUND FROM JOHN LEGERE INTERVIEW ON "SQUAWK ON THE STREET": MARCELO NEEDS TO WAKE UP AND REALIZE THAT THE MOTHER OF ALL CUSTOMER LOADS IS SITTING IN VERIZON AND AT&T. 77% OF MY CUSTOMER ADDS COME FROM THOSE TWO. AND I THINK HE SHOULD FOCUS ON FIXING HIS COMPANY AND, YOU KNOW, JUST COPY PASTE EVERYTHING I DO AND YOU'LL BE FINE.

QUINTANILLA: SPRINT CEO MARCELO CLAURE JOINS US THIS MORNING ON THE PHONE TO RESPOND. MARCELO, IT'S GREAT TO HAVE YOU BACK. GOOD MORNING.

MARCELO CLAURE: GOOD MORNING, HOW ARE YOU?

QUINTANILLA: WE ARE GOOD. WE ARE WATCHING THIS BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN YOU TWO, BOTH AS INDIVIDUAL CEOS AND AS COMPANIES. THEY CAME OUT WITH THEIR PLAN, WE HAD LEGERE ON AND AS WE WERE TALKING TO JOHN, YOUR RELEASE CAME OUT. ARE YOU IN FACT TRYING TO RIDE JOHN'S COAT TAILS?

CLAURE: NO, NO, NEVER. WHAT HAPPENED IS SOMETHING PRETTY SIMPLE. WE STARTED TESTING THIS A WEEK AGO. WE WERE GOING TO START TOMORROW. SO WHAT JOHN DID UNFORTUNATLEY IS HE BASICALLY COPIED OUR RATE PLANS AND CALLED FOR AN EMERGENCY PRESS RELEASE. AND HE'S NOT EVEN READY TO LAUNCH UNTIL SEPTEMBER 6TH. WE'RE LAUNCHING OUR UNLIMITED PLAN TOMORROW. IT IS LAUNCHING TOMORROW AT ALL OF OUR STORES. SO WE HAVE BEEN READY FOR THIS FOR AWHILE. SO OBVIOUSLY SOMEBODY THAT DOES AN EMERGENCY PRESS RELEASE AND SAYS HE'S NOT READY TO LAUNCH THE SEPTEMBER 6THIS BLATANTLY LYING. BUT WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT IS THE FACT THAT IT IS A VALUE THE AMERICAN CONSUMERS ARE GETTING UNLIMITED FOR – IF YOU ARE A PARTY OF TWO FOR $100, IT IS THE BEST UNLIMITED DATA PLAN ON THE PLANET.

JON FORTT: AND SO, I MEAN, IT IS UNLIMITED IN THE SENSE OF THE VOLUME OF DATA, BUT THERE ARE LIMITS ON THE QUALITY OF DATA, PARTICULARLY VIDEO AND AUDIO STREAMING. DOES THAT JUST GO TO SHOW THAT IT IS REALLY VIDEO PRIMARILY THAT IS LOADING THE NETWORKS THESE DAYS? AND YOU ARE CONFIDENT THAT AS LONG AS THE VIDEO THAT YOU HAVE TO HAVE TO PUSH THROUGH THE NETWORK ISN'T THAT THICK? YOU'LL BE ABLE TO MAINTAIN QUALITY?

CLAURE: NO, WHEN YOU ARE SITTING AT A SPRINT AND YOU ARE SITTING WITH OVER 200 MGHZ OF SPECTRUM, WHICH MAKES US THE LARGEST SPECTRUM HOLDER IN THE WORLD, WE HAVE THE CAPACITY TO OFFER UNLIMITED 4G LTE FOR PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING. AND IF SOME OF OUR CUSTOMERS ARE STREAMING, WE WILL NEVER COMPROMISE OUR QUALITY. WE WILL – UP TO MAKE SURE THAT THE QUALITY IS IDENTICAL WHEN THEY ARE STREAMING VIDEO, STREAMING MUSIC. SO YOU CAN DO THIS WHEN YOU HAVE A LOT OF SPECTRUM. WE BUILD OUR NETWORK TO BE A HIGH CAPACITY NETWORK AND WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT TO BASICALLY MOVE ALL OF OUR CUSTOMERS WHO ARE MOVING TO AN UNLIMITED DATA PLAN.

SARA EISEN: LET'S TALK ABOUT THE PRICE, MARCELO. T-MOBILE HAS IT STARTING AT $70 PER MONTH, SO IT SOUNDS GOOD WHEN YOU HEAR THE WORD UNLIMITED. BUT WHY WOULDN'T A CUSTOMER JUST GO TO A REGULAR AT&T FOR INSTANCE 1G PLAN STARTING AT $50 PER MONTH. IS THIS AN INCREASE FOR THE CONSUMER?

CLAURE: I MEAN, FOR US AT SPRINT, IT IS QUITE SIMPLE. THE FIRST LINE IS 60, THE SECOND LINE IS 40 AND AN ADDITIONAL LINE IS 30. MEANING WE WILL USUALLY GET COUPLES WHO COME WHO JOIN SPRINT SO, YOU HAVE A COUPLE WHO IS GOING TO BE PAYING $100. IMAGINE THAT FOR $50 YOU PRETTY MUCH GET UNLIMITED. YOU NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT DATA OVERRAGES. YOU NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING. YOU'LL KNOW THAT YOUR BILL WILL BE $50, WHICH I THINK, MAKES IT THE MOST ATTRACTIVE UNLIMITED DATA PLAN IN THE PLANET.

QUINTANILLA: MARCELO, I WONDER, WHEN YOU TOOK THIS JOB IF YOU WERE AWARE HOW MUCH OF A ROLE YOU, YOURSELF WOULD PLAY IN THE MARKET. THAT YOU WOULD HAVE TO HAVE THIS BACK AND FORTH WITH ONE OF YOUR COMPETITORS. AND HOW MUCH – ALL OF THIS MOVES THE SUB NEEDLE. YOU MUST HAVE DONE SOME PROJECTIONS ON THAT.

CLAURE: I MEAN , OF COURSE. IF YOU LOOK AT THE DIFFERENCE WE HAD WHEN I CAME IN TWO YEARS AGO, WE WERE DEAD LAST. IF YOU FOLLOW THE INDUSTRY, YOU NOTICE THAT WE SURPASS THE AT&T AND VERIZON IN THE LAST TWO QUARTERS, MEANING WE'RE ALREADY SECOND IN THE NUMBER OF HANDSET CUSTOMERS THAT ARE COMING TO OUR NETWORK AND NOW THE DIFFERENCE WITH T-MOBILE WAS 1.7 MILLION CUSTOMERS TWO YEARS AGO, NOW IT'S LESS THAN 300,000 PER QUARTER. SO WE'RE CATCHING UP AND ANTICIPATE THAT IN LESS THAN A YEAR WE'RE GOING TO CATCH UP TO T-MOBILE IN THE HANDSET. WHICH IS THE PART THAT MATTERS IN THE BUSINESS WHERE YOU PRETTY MUCH GO TO PROFITABILITY.

EISEN: WELL THE OTHER THING THAT WE WERE TALKING TO JOHN ABOUT WAS, HE SAID IN HIS WORDS ISN'T IT SAD, SOME OF THE STUFF YOU WERE SAYING GIVEN THAT YOUR PARENT COMPANY, SOFTBANK, ACCORDING TO REPORTS, WOKE UP YESTERDAY ACCORDING TO JOHN, THINKING ABOUT T-MOBILE. AND THRE HAVE BEEN REPORTS THAT MASAYOSHI SON STILL WANTS TO DO THIS DEAL, POTENTIALLY WAITING FOR A BETTER REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT. COULD YOU EVER SEE A FUTURE WHERE T-MOBILE AND SPRINT ARE UNDER THE SAME UMBRELLA AND THE SAME COMPANY?

CLAURE: I MEAN, IT'S SOMETHING THAT WE HAVE BEEN VERY PUBLIC. AS YOU KNOW, WE HAD A DEAL BEFORE. AND THE GOVERNMENT DIDN'T GIVE US REGULATORY APPROVAL AND THAT'S SOMETHING THAT'S ALWAYS IN OUR MIND. THAT DOESN'T MEAN THAT WE HAVE ANY CONVERSATIONS AND NEGOTIATIONS WITH T-MOBILE. WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN VERY CLEAR THAT WE BELIEVE THAT THE COMBINATION OF TWO SMALLER CARRIERS WILL MAKE A FORMIDABLE COMPETITIOR. NOTHING HAS CHANGED. I DON'T THINK IT IS SAD. I MEAN, IT MIGHT BE SAD FOR HIM BECAUSE IF THAT WERE TO HAPPEN HE'LL PROBABLY GET PUT OUT.

FORTT: MARCELO, JOHN LEGERE HAS TURNED HIMSELF INTO A PRETTY INTERESTING MARKETING VEHICLE FOR T-MOBILE. HE'S VERY ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA. GETS A LOT OF ATTENTION FOR THAT. MEANWHILE, AT&T AND VERIZON HAVE MONEY FOR MARKETING WHICH WE SEE THESE COMMERCIALS OUT NOW WITH JAMIE FOXX COUNTERING SOME OF YOUR MARKETING WHERE YOU TOOK VERIZON'S OLD PITCHMAN AND HAD HIM COMING OUT FOR SPRINT. WHAT IS YOUR STRATEGIC ADVANTAGE IN MARKETING BEYOND PRICE, THAT'S GOING TO GET YOU THE ATTENTION YOU NEED IN ORDER TO GROW THE SUBSCRIBER BASE AND ACTUALLY MONETIZE THIS NETWORK?

CLAURE: I MEAN, IT'S QUITE SIMPLE. LET'S START WITH OUR MAIN PRODUCT WHICH IS OUR NETWORK. YOU CAN SEE IF YOU LOOK AT EVERY SINGLE NETWORK PUBLICATION, THE U.S. STORY IS SPRINT IS BACK, OUR NETWORK IS BETTER THAN T-MOBILE. PER METRICS, PER NIELSEN, THE TWO LEADING FIRMS THAT ARE ON THE PLANET THEY BASICALLY MEASURE NETWORK PERFORMANCE. AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VERIZON AND US NOW IS LESS THAN 1%, AGAIN ACCORDING NIELSEN, WHICH IS THE WORLD'S LEADING ANALYTICS FIRM. SO THE DIFFERENCE IS TODAY WE HAVE A VERY COMPETITIVE NETWORK, WE ARE GOING AFTER VERIZON. WE HAVE THE BEST UNLIMITED DATA PLAN ON THE PLANET. SO THIS IS WHY, YOU KNOW, LIKE I SAID ON MY LAST EARNINGS CALL, INCLUDING THIS MONTH, WE ARE HANDSET NET POSITIVE AGAINST THE THREE CARRIERS. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? IF WE HAVE MORE CUSTOMERS COMING FROM VERIZON, AT&T AND T-MOBILE COMING TO SPRINT THAN CUSTOMERS LEAVING. WHEN I TOOK THIS JOB WE WERE NEGATIVE 3. FOR EVERY CUSTOMER WE GOT, WE HAD THREE CUSTOMERS LEAVING. THAT HAS COMPLETELY CHANGED AND WE'RE CATCHING UP DAY BY DAY. AT THE SAME TIME, WE'RE GROWING PROFITABLE. AS YOU KNOW, WE HAD THE FIRST TWO QUARTERS IN MANY YEARS THAT SPRINT HAS AN OPERATING INCOME PROFITABLE. AND IT IS STARTING TO GENERATE POSITIVE FREE CASH FLOW. SO WE LIKE WHAT WE'RE DOING. WE'RE CATCHING UP TO T-MOBILE. WE'RE GOING TO OVERTAKE HIM IN THE NUMBER ONE HANDSET POSITION. AND WE ARE DOING REAL GOOD. WE HAVE A LOT OF CUSTOMERS JOINING. OUR IS THE ABSOLUTE LOWEST IN SPRINT'S 20 YEAR HISTORY AND WHAT THAT TELLS YOU IS IF CUSTOMERS COMING IN THEY'RE LOVING THE PRODUCT AND THEY'RE STAYING. WHICH I THINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SERVICE.

QUINTANILLA: I'M SORRY TO GO BACK TO THE SOCIAL MEDIA THING. I KNOW, WE'RE HITTING THIS PRETTY HARD. BUT ABOUT AN HOUR AGO, LEGERE ACCUSED SPRINT OF TAKING FIVE MINUTES TO COPY PASTE AS HE SAID. YOU RESPONDED AND I'M QUOTING. YOU TRULY ARE A CON ARTIST NO DOUBT. GOOD LUCK. DO YOU MEAN THAT? AND IS SOFTBANK, HAVE THEY GIVEN YOU FREE REIGN TO SAY WHATEVER YOU WANT ABOUT YOUR COMPETITION?

CLAURE: I MEAN, LET'S START WITH THE BASICS. SOMEBODY WHO BASICALLY STEALS AN IDEA BECAUSE WE ARE RUNNING TESTS AND HE KNOWS EXACTLY THAT WE ARE LAUNCHING THIS TOMORORW, CALLS FOR AN EMERGENCY PRESS RELEASE, BECAUSE IT IS THE FASTEST PRESS CONFERENCE EVER, AND BASICALLY COPY CATS WHAT WE ARE DOING, SORRY. TO ME THAT'S A CON ARTIST. IT'S OKAY. IT'S OKAY FOR SPRINT TO LAUNCH FIRST AND IF WE WERE COPYING HIS IDEA, HOW IN THE WORLD COULD WE BE READY TO LAUNCH THIS TOMORROW WHILE HE CANNOT LAUNCH UNTIL SEPTEMBER 6th? HE GOT A HOLD OF AN IDEA, HE CALLED AN EMERGENCY PRESS CONFERENCE AND NOW HE HAS TO GET HIS SYSTEMS READY AND EVERYTHING READY. WE'RE LAUNCHING THIS TOMORROW. WE'RE READY TO LAUNCH. WE'RE READY TO GO. SOMEBODY WHO DOES THAT TO ME AND WHO BASICALLY HAS THE AUDACITY TO SAY WE'RE COPYING AND PASTING IS A CON ARTIST. AS IT RELATES TO SOFTBANK GIVING ME THE AUTHORITY, I THINK THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MASA AND MYSELF IS A PRETTY OPEN ONE. THIS GUY HAS BEEN CALLING AT&T AND VERIZON DUMB AND DUMBER SO HE'S THE KING OF INSULTING EVERYBODY. HE JUST DOESN'T LIKE WHEN SOMEBODY PLAYS HIS OWN GAME.

QUINTANILLA: AND I WONDER WHETHER OR NOT YOU THINK LEGERE WHO HAS SORT OF THIS MAVERICK QUALITY AND HE HAS NURTURED THAT IMAGE FOR A LONG TIME. IF HE HAS ANY IDEA WHO HE IS MESSING WITH IN YOU?

CLAURE: I MEAN, I JUST HAVE A VERY SIMPLE PHILOSOPHY. WHEN YOU ARE FIGHTING SOMEBODY LIKE LEGERE, YOU NEED TO GO DOWN TO HIS LEVEL AND FIGHT AT THE SAME LEVEL. THAT'S THE ONLY WAY HE WILL UNDERSTAND. BUT LET ME JUST ADD ONE MORE THING. THIS IS NOT ABOUT LEGERE. THIS IS ABOUT US PRETTY MUCH HAVING THE BEST COMPETITIVE RATE PLAN IN THE INDUSTRY. THIS IS ABOUT OFFERING UNLIMITED TO THE AMERICAN CONSUMERS. THIS IS ABOUT SOMETHING THAT NEITHER AT&T OR VERIZON CAN GET TO IT. AND IF THERE IS ONE THING JOHN IS RIGHT IS 73% OF CUSTOMERS SIT ON THE OTHER TWO NETWORKS. THE BEAUTIFUL THING IS NOW WE'RE CATCHING CUSTOMERS FROM ALL THREE NETWORKS.

EISEN: YEAH. THAT'S WHAT I KEEP WONDERING. JUST WHAT ARE YOU GUYS FIGHTING FOR? IT DOES FEEL LIKE THIS IS NOT THAT MUCH OF A GROWTH MARKET ANYMORE IN TERMS OF SATURATION, EVERYBODY HAS SMARTPHONES. SO IT'S ABOUT TAKING SHARE FROM AT&T AND VERIZON, CORRECT?

CLAURE: ABSOLUTELY AND LEVERAGING SPRINT'S MAIN PRODUCT DIFFERENTIATION, WHICH IS OVER 200 MGHZ OF SPECTRUM, WHICH MEANS WE HAVE CAPACITY TO BE ABLE TO OFFER UNLIMITED. AND THAT IS SPRINT'S MAIN DIFFERENTIATOR. WHILE MOST OF THE NETWORKS ARE GETTING CHOKE, THAT'S WHY THEY HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE SPECTRUM. WHEN YOU ARE SITTING ON 200 MGHZ OF SPECTRUM, YOU HAVE CAPACITY AND SPEED. AND THAT'S WHAT THE AMERICAN CONSUMER IS STARTING TO REALIZE.

QUINTANILLA: WELL, CERTAINLY IT IS A NET BENEFIT FOR CONSUMERS. THERE'S NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT. AND PROBABLY FOR US AS WE WATCH YOU TWO GO AT IT. MARCELO, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

CLAURE: THANK YOU AND HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY. BYE BYE.

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