Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
IT | By Lester Massey

Mobile and Sprint say merger is crucial for 5G

Mobile and Sprint say merger is crucial for 5G

USA lawmakers questioning the chief executives of T-Mobile US Inc and Sprint Corp over their planned merger sparred with each other on Tuesday over T-Mobile's executives staying at President Donald Trump's hotel where they spent $195,000 while in Washington.

"We can take competition to new levels", Legere, the outspoken T-Mobile CEO, testified at a hearing in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in February.

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican, said that where the T-Mobile executives stayed was irrelevant. "I'm always concerned when there is evidence or a suggestion that someone is trying to curry favor with the administration by staying at a Trump Hotel - I think that's a concern".

The two men talked over one another briefly, before Johnson interjected: "It doesn't pass the smell test with the American public. It looks like you're trying to purchase influence".

But Representative Hank Johnson, a Democrat from Georgia, asked instead about Legere taking a group of executives to stay at the Trump International Hotel the day after the merger was announced previous year. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Hank Johnson (D-GA) pressed Legere on whether the company was pining for favorability from the Trump administration in order to receive approval for the merger.

"There is reason to look at this question of what happened at the Trump hotels because it has been clear from quite a bit of reporting that ..."

Legere said on Twitter on Sunday that on this trip to Washington he stayed at a different hotel. "Trump appears to have involved himself in the AT&T-Time Warner merger", Jayapal said.

"I am so happy to wake up in a hotel where every single item isn't labeled 'Trump, ' " Legere tweeted after leaving the hotel, according to news reports at the time. When it came to Legere criticizing the Trump hotel years ago, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said "I have said I would never stay in a La Quinta again, and I have stayed at a La Quinta subsequently".

Not every moment of the hearing was devoted to Legere's hotel stays. USA officials have been trying to dissuade allies from using the Chinese technology giant's equipment in their networks over possible spying concerns, and T-Mobile on Tuesday said it did not use the company's gear.

The chief executives of T-Mobile US Inc and Sprint Corp, which are seeking to merge, head back to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to defend their planned deal.

To win support for the deal, T-Mobile previously said it would not increase prices for three years.

The T-Mobile-Sprint merger is still being reviewed by the FCC and DOJ.

To defend the proposed transaction, Legere pointed to the company's history of aggressive pricing, said it would need 11,000 new employees by 2024 and pledged to building the next generation of wireless, called 5G, without equipment from Huawei Technologies Co Ltd or ZTE Corp, two Chinese telecommunications firms distrusted by USA national security experts.

In a recent written address, Chief Executive Officer John Legere once again promised all sorts of 5G goodness should the firm's consolidation idea be approved and regulators agree to let it complete the all-stock deal valued at approximately $26.5 billion.

Some opponents insist that the deal will result in higher prices.

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