SoftBank targets broadband to justify T-Mobile buyout -- report

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son will reportedly argue that having a strong third mobile carrier will help even the playing field for in-home broadband.

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SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son Stephen Shankland/CNET

Fast mobile connection speeds, coupled with a strong third wireless carrier, could help improve US competition, not hurt it, SoftBank's CEO plans to argue in Washington this week.

SoftBank CEO and Sprint chairman Masayoshi Son will speak to policymakers on Tuesday and argue that if wireless carriers grow in size and invest in faster, more reliable data service, competition in the US home broadband market would intensify, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing people who claim to have knowledge of Son's plans.

Son won't specifically lobby for a Sprint-T-Mobile merger, the report claimed, but the subtext of that talk shouldn't be too difficult for the attendees to pick up on.

Son has been quietly considering making an acquisition bid for T-Mobile USA. Japan-based SoftBank has a controlling interest in Sprint, the third-largest mobile carrier in the US, and would like to expand its presence in the US through the help of T-Mobile, the fourth-largest carrier. However, competition watchdogs have argued that a merger would hurt competition in the wireless space and limit consumer choices.

Although it was believed that Son would use his discussion to argue against that point, he's reportedly now decided to turn to home broadband where most consumers have only one or two choices for in-home Internet access. A stronger wireless carrier that invests in fast broadband could conceivably be an alternative to companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon FiOS, Son will reportedly argue.

The sleight of hand might be a tough sell. After the FCC struck down any chance of AT&T merging with T-Mobile, arguing it would tip the balance of power against consumers, it seemed unlikely that any other merger would be approved. Son hopes by making an alternative competition argument, he can change his luck. The FCC, however, might have other plans.

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