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T-Mobile CEO to regulators: China is beating US on fast 5G wireless but our Sprint deal can change that

  • T-Mobile US CEO John Legere says the carrier's blockbuster buyout of Sprint will "supercharge" competition and wireless speeds.
  • Legere declines to say what consumers can expect their phone bills to look like as a result of the deal.
  • Analysts are skeptical about whether the deal can actually get approved under the Trump administration.

T-Mobile US CEO John Legere told CNBC on Monday that the carrier's blockbuster buyout of Sprint will "supercharge" competition and wireless speeds.

"Services are going to be broadened, prices are going to go down, speeds are going to go up," Legere said in a "Squawk on the Street" interview alongside Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. "If you liked the competition before, you're going to love what's coming with this one."

Legere declined to say what consumers can expect their phone bills to look like as a result of the deal but promised to always have the lowest price out of the major carriers.

Shares of Sprint were more than 13 percent lower midmorning Monday, with T-Mobile off 6 percent, on concerns about whether U.S. regulators will approve the deal.

"All roads lead to Washington," Legere said, playing the nationalist card in his case to the Trump administration. China is beating the United States on 5G next-generation wireless but the new company can change that, he said. "We are behind. It's the early innovation cycle of 5G. We are behind China. This is not something we can allow."

He added the GOP's tax cut increased the deal's value.

The two carriers announced Sunday that Sprint has agreed to be bought by T-Mobile in an all-stock deal worth $26.5 billion, with the combined company valued at $146 billion. The new entity will take the T-Mobile name, and it will be run by current CEO Legere. Claure will serve on the board.

Analysts on Wall Street are skeptical about whether a deal can actually get approved under the current administration due to the resistance of Trump regulators to AT&T's proposed blockbuster acquisition of Time Warner.

Sprint could lose about a third of its value if its merger with T-Mobile falls through, MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett told CNBC on Monday, giving the deal 50-50 odds.

Meanwhile Walter Piecyk, a research analyst at BTIG, told CNBC he sees a less than 40 percent chance the transaction will be approved.

The nation's third- and fourth-largest wireless companies, which have been considering a combination for years, failed at an attempted merger in 2014 under the Obama administration when Tom Wheeler was FCC chairman. Wheeler told CNBC on Monday the announced deal is nothing new.

"I'll stipulate that John Legere is the world's greatest salesman. But what he's selling right now, it's old stuff," Wheeler, who has argued having four national wireless providers is good for American consumers, told "Squawk on the Street" on Monday.

However, Legere expects a different outcome.

"What we also hope to do is to get 'dumb and dumber' and get Comcast and others to set up their investment. And we expect they'll invest an extra $20 billion. And we're going to invest $40 billion in the first three years. That's a story Washington wants to hear," Legere said.

The reference to "dumb and dumber" is Legere's disparaging nicknames for rivals Verizon and AT&T, respectively.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere (L) and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure pose for pictures on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange April 30, 2018.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
T-Mobile CEO John Legere (L) and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure pose for pictures on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange April 30, 2018.

Meanwhile, Claure told CNBC on Monday that the "time is right" for Sprint and T-Mobile to combine as they tout a mission to create a large-scale 5G network and thousands of U.S. jobs.

"The U.S. needs to lead in 5G," Claure said. "The only way to lead 5G is by combining Sprint and T-Mobile. AT&T cannot do it. Verizon cannot do ... the way were are going to build this 5G network."

"We think [the deal] is good for America, we think it's good for consumers," he added. "We've made it very clear that we're going to lower prices."

Legere and Claure have been critical of each other in the past. On Monday, the two said their feud is behind them and they would have Thanksgiving dinner together this year.

WATCH the full interview about the deal with Legere and Claure

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