Federal Communications Commission head Tom Wheeler is applauding the collapse of merger talks between Sprint and T-Mobile.
Sprint, which initiated a transition phase by naming Marcelo Claure as its new CEO, abandoned plans to merge with rival T-Mobile days after the FCC floated a proposal that would prohibit nationwide carriers from bidding jointly on spectrum.
"Four national wireless providers are good for American consumers," Wheeler said in a statement. "Sprint now has an opportunity to focus their efforts on robust competition."
The Sprint-T-Mobile alliance had received a cold reception from regulators from the start. The two companies, which hold the distinction of being the third (Sprint) and fourth (T-Mobile) largest carriers in the United States, would have reduced the number of competitors in the US mobile market had they joined forces. This inspired opposition from regulators, who saw the merger as anti-competitive.
Wheeler, for his part, had publicly criticized the deal for months. A source told the New York Post that he became angry at Sprint due to an incident that happened last January. According to the report, Wheeler became furious over a Wall Street Journal article about a possible Sprint-T-Mobile merger, which surfaced on the morning he was supposed to meet with Sprint representatives about the proposed deal. The source said that Wheeler believed that Sprint was trying to pressure him by leaking the story.
The report, which was published last May, also predicted the demise of a possible Sprint-T-Mobile partnership. "I don't see any prospect of it going through... It's dead," a source said.
While Wheeler has shown that he is intent in killing a T-Mobile-Sprint deal, he has been softer on other possible deals, such as AT&T's possible purchase of DirectTV and Comcast's bid for Time Warner. This has caused concern among advocacy groups.
"I was encourage to see him come out on Sprint-T-Mobile but it begs the question why our regulators have been less vocal on these two other mergers," Todd O' Boyle of honest government advocacy group Common Cause told the Financial Times. "These other deals really deserve the same kind of scrutiny and should be dead on arrival because they are not in the public interest."
On Wednesday, Sprint announced that it is replacing Dan Hesse, who was the company's CEO for the past seven years. His replacement is the founder and CEO of Softbank subsidiary Brightstar Corporation.