Reporting Errors, Obvious Lies, & Lazy Reporters Might Get Sprint-T-Mobile Approved

Michael J. de la Merced and Cecilia Kang in the NY Times have one clear error & printed several company lies in their first report on Sprint-T-Mobile. Anyone an open mind and a basic understanding of networks and economics would see this instantly.

Since 2008, I’ve refrained from criticizing working reporters in a very rough world for journalists. Analysts like Craig Moffett have said this only has a 50-50 chance of going through the FCC. Spinning journalists is crucial to the success of the deal. Gullible reporters are a key enabler of the reduction in U.S. competition and high prices. The stakes here are high enough I’m changing that policy.

It is simply an error to say, “[5G] is the standard that will be used to connect home appliances, cars and smartphones online via fiber optic lines to the home.” 5G is a wireless standard, connecting to carriers’ wireless networks, not fiber optic lines. One of the biggest questions about 5G is whether devices will connect in the home via Wi-Fi or 5G to the telco network. Since telco networks charge, I and many others think Wi-Fi will be more common.

We all make mistakes. My next issue leads with a correction. But the Times and the Post are notoriously lax in telecom. Brian Fung at the Post once wrote AT&T had spent $140B on wireless networks. The real figure was substantially less than half that. The Huffington Post caught the mistake & the Post reporter ignored several emails.

These examples are all from the Times, which truly is the greatest paper in the world. “Nobody’s perfect,” as Joe E. Brown said.

Several statements are pretty obviously wrong if you know the industry.

Kang has covered telecom for ten years and should have caught them. The Times and the Post should avoid using quotes in press releases unless the source is available for questions. Smaller pubs, including mine, can’t expect that; I rarely print quotes likely false without an immediate criticism.

Do it all so much faster than either company could on its own,” Mr. Legere said That would only be true if the combined company had deployed 5G in 2017 and covered the entire U.S. by 2019. CTO Nicholas Ray said Tmo would have 30 cities in 2018 and the whole country in 2020. That was echoed by press releases and I believe the CEO.

“Going from 4G to 5G is like going from black and white to color TV,” Marcelo Claure, Sprint’s chief executive, said in the news release. “It’s a seismic shift — one that only the combined company can unlock nationwide to fuel the next wave of mobile innovation.” This week, T-Mobile Technology VP Karri Kuoppamaki said the 5G improvements would be much less than a “seismic shift.” I have quotes rejecting the 5G hype from CEO, CTOs,, or other senior technical people at AT&T, Verizon, British Telecom, Deutsche Telecom, Orange and Telefonica. D.C. has fallen for spin.

Reporters with common sense would catch this and not report it without making clear it is  not likely true.

Combining is the only way they can fight back against the two industry leaders T-Mobile is obviously fighting back very effectively. In addition, if Sprint couldn’t compete with VZ & T, it makes no sense for the company to have a market cap of $26B and an enterprise value, including debt, of more than twice that.

Further down, the article did mention “T-Mobile’s success” as a factor.


The Times several days before reported the deal as likely. All Washington reporters knew what would be said and could have researched in advance. Most of the claims have been made before and reported in the Times. Again & again, I’ve seen D.C. reporters (not just Kang) pick up the official statements and responses on major decisions they knew were coming down far in advance. That’s not reporting. Some they would have found:

That T-Mobile was ready going so fast on 5G that any claim of meaningful speedup was spin.

That 5G is not a revolution.

That 4-3 mergers are likely to raise prices.

That combining is not the only way for Sprint to survive. Many, many statements by the top executives of Sprint on financial calls. If they were lying to Wall Street, they could be prosecuted. A close look at Sprint finances and networks would make clear that Sprint has deep problems but also plausible ways to fix them. (Craig Moffett disagrees.)

A reliable source that there’s a 50% chance the merger would be blocked.

I’m not the only one covering most of this. Fierce. Ars Technica, and DSL Reports should be an automatic daily read for anyone in U.S. telecom.  

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