Sprint CEO Backs Net Neutrality

by Matt Klassen on March 27, 2015

In a move that truly rivals anything we’ve seen so far in T-Mobile’s ongoing UnCarrier revolution, Sprint has done something that totally and absolutely sets it apart from the rest of the wireless industry: it has supported Net Neutrality.

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure praised the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to impose utility style regulation to govern and maintain an open Internet—which in its latest iteration includes regulation for both wired and wireless service—noting that his company won’t be able to compete, let alone survive, without them.

Claure acknowledged that being the only wireless carrier to come out in favour of the FCC’s Net Neutrality standards will likely make him unpopular among his industry peers, but for a company rife with issues and still haemorrhaging customers at an alarming rate one can’t argue that America’s third largest wireless carrier is in desperate need of reprieve from the free-wheeling free market capitalism that’s currently driving it out of business and Net Neutrality may just be able to provide an industry framework that would allow Sprint to not only recover, but once again perhaps even thrive.

“Unless there is light-touch regulation that oversees AT&T and Verizon, they are going to drive us out of business,” he said in a panel discussion at the Competitive Carrier Association’s trade show here Thursday, later adding, “I’d rather there be light-touch regulation than a complete free-for-all.”

In a panel discussion Claure acknowledged that this company is dependent on both AT&T and Verizon for roaming arrangements, to help fill the gaps in Sprints nationwide coverage, but given that both competitors have Sprint over a barrel, the company ends up paying for more than it should, according to Claure, which ultimately hurts Sprint’s bottom line.

“I can’t disclose how much I pay for roaming,” he said. “But it’s insane.”

“I don’t like writing checks for hundreds of millions of dollars to my two biggest competitors,” he said. “I’d rather write those checks to rural carriers.”

Claure noted that a combination of Net Neutrality regulations and Sprint’s recently announced partnership with rural wireless carriers could better help the company establish a nationwide network, one that might actually be able to compete with the likes of AT&T and Verizon.

Now again, Claure’s support of the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules puts him in a company of exactly one, as the regulations are not sitting well with wired and wireless broadband industries in general. In fact, earlier this week the expected avalanche of lawsuits against the FCC’s actions began, with trade groups represented the wireless industry lodged several complaints against the FCC, challenging the legality of its decision to reclassify broadband communication as a public utility.

While I have yet to fully gauge the efficacy of Claure’s comments–whether or not Net Neutrality will actually be able to help one of the worst wireless debacles of all time recover and compete in one of the most clogged and stagnant wireless markets in the world–I have to agree with Claure that we all benefit from an Internet that is open and free, as opposed to one operated and controlled by the likes of AT&T and Verizon.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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