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Sprint Chairman: Network Quality In US Is Bad

Sprint Chairman: Network Quality In US Is Bad

Masayoshi Son is not only the chief executive officer of Japanese wireless carrier SoftBank. He also happens to serve as the chairman of Sprint. And during a recent quarterly conference call with industry watchers, Son had expressed some criticism of the current state of the quality of the wireless network in the United States, specifically calling out American wireless carriers for providing “very bad” network.


But wait -- isn’t Son essentially railing against his own industry? The chairman is actually just criticizing the US network as a way of arguing how Sprint will turn things around. Reverse psychology aside, this is actually not the first time that Son has used this kind of argument. Last year, he also made the same argument when he made the case for why he should be permitted to merge Sprint and its rival T-Mobile. US regulators quickly intervened, so that deal never took place. But by speaking in this year’s quarterly conference call, Son appears this time to be fully supporting Sprint (which he acquired a couple of years ago), and then try to steer the US carrier into improving itself.


Son was pretty specific when he called out US wireless carriers. He singled out Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile, and basically compared the quality of their networks to those in Japan, which he says has the best network. He highlighted the fact that SoftBank was able to build fast wireless networks without incurring too much costs. It is because of this that Son has expressed some confidence that Sprint will be able to replicate the same level of success in the US. 


Of course, Son’s words elicited some reactions from the wireless carriers he called out. Verizon defended the quality of its wireless network and of the US’ in general, saying that the American network is considered among the best in the world. As for T-Mobile, its chief executive officer, John Legere tweeted (quite emphatically) that building speedy networks in Japan is easy because the country is roughly the size of California. AT&T, however, declined to comment.


Is there some truth to Son’s words? Japan’s wireless network does rate higher than the US’ but not by much, at least according to wireless data research firm Open Signal. Interestingly enough, both Japan and US did not even crack the top ten, which feature other countries like Spain (the fastest), followed by Finland and Denmark. 


Is it possible that Son may have just gotten carried away in his rhetoric? It is hard to tell. But if his speech does help improve Sprint’s network, that in itself is not so bad.