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Verizon's CEO couldn't care less about T-Mobile and Sprint's $26B merger

Lowell McAdam is skeptical the tie-up will lead to a more competitive market for high-speed 5G wireless broadband access.

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Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam says his company doesn't care about T-Mobile's proposal to merge with rival Sprint.

James Martin/CNET

T-Mobile's plan to merge with wireless rival Sprint doesn't even rate a blip on Verizon's radar.

That was Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam's reaction Wednesday when asked his opinion about the $26 billion deal between the third- and fourth-largest US wireless carriers.

"We don't care, is the answer to that," McAdam told GeekWire, facetiously alluding to past attempts by T-Mobile to merge with Sprint and AT&T. "Maybe the fourth time is the charm here, I don't know."

The deal, announced Sunday, comes amid intense competition among US carriers to win customers, leading to freebies like access to Netflix, as well as a renewed eagerness to court smartphone users with unlimited data. Sprint is still giving away a year of service for free. Those competitive pressures have driven T-Mobile and Sprint together.

McAdam expressed skepticism that the deal would make the US more competitive in the emerging market for high-speed 5G wireless broadband access.

"In the areas like 5G, we've been pushing forward with that strategy," he said. "I don't think that merger matters from a 5G perspective. We're going to do it regardless and we're way ahead of everybody. We've made all the investments that are required in fiber and millimeter wave spectrum and those sorts of things."

Both companies have vowed the creation of a stronger single player that will add jobs and more quickly move to 5G. All of the carriers are jockeying to be first in the next-generation wireless technology, which promises significantly higher speeds and better, more responsive coverage.

T-Mobile says it will bring 5G to 30 cities this year but won't launch the service until the smartphones arrive in 2019. Likewise, Sprint will deploy 5G in six cities this year, and launch next year.

Verizon declined to comment further.

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