On Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump made a huge announcement: because of his presidency, Sprint has decided to bring back or create 5,000 jobs in the United States, while satellite startup OneWeb will create another 3,000.
The claim, however, was false. Those jobs are part of a $50 billion investment from SoftBank, which owns 80 percent of Sprint and has made a large investment in OneWeb, that was previously announced as part of a deal with a Saudi investment fund before Trump won the presidency. Meanwhile, not all of the jobs promised by Sprint will be at the company itself, but instead at contractors.
But it’s in both the company’s interests and Trump’s to create glowing, if misleading, headlines about cooperation between the administration and the corporation.
For Sprint, cozying up to Trump is almost certainly related to the hope that it can get approval of its previously failed attempt to merge with T-Mobile. Sprint was in the process of making a bid to buy T-Mobile in 2014, and thus combining the third and fourth largest wireless carriers in the country, but ended up abandoning the plan in the face of regulatory opposition from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Both agencies have stated an intent to keep four major carriers in the country, rather than let them combine, under current leadership.
While Sprint has been able to remain solvent since then, it hasn’t turned an annual profit since 2006 and has more than $30 billion in total debt. SoftBank’s CEO Masayoshi Son, who personally met with Trump after the election and re-announced his company’s intents to invest in the United States from Trump Tower, has made it clear that he sees consolidation as a must for getting the company to profitability. “We need scale,” he told Bloomberg in 2014. And he still reportedly has his eyes on T-Mobile.
If the FCC and DOJ become more friendly to mega-mergers under Trump, that would be an enormous win for the company. And even before Sprint started currying favor with Trump, his administration has been shaping up to be just what the company is looking for. One of the president-elect’s top policy advisers on technology has suggested abolishing the FCC altogether and is a proponent of industry mergers, writing, “Telecommunications network providers and ISPs are rarely, if ever, monopolies.” Other advisers are staunchly against net neutrality regulations that aim to keep the internet a level playing field but have been opposed by giants like AT&T and Verizon.
Rarely monopolies. Right. In what fucking universe? Have people forgotten Ma Bell already? It wasn’t that bloody long ago. Living rural, I already get screwed royally when it comes to net access, and I’m capped, too. No streaming for me, I can’t afford it. Whether or not I’ll be able to afford net access at all once the incoming administration guts everything, who knows? I really hate interesting times.
There’s much more at Think Progress.