T-Mobile CEO Blasts Rivals With 8 Predictions For 2017

January 6, 2017, 2:16 PM UTC
John Legere
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR T-MOBILE - T-Mobile US President and CEO John Legere announced the addition of 2.1 million net customers in the fourth quarter and 8.2 million net customers for 2016 during the Un-carrier Next event at CES on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/AP Images for T-Mobile)
Bizuayehu Tesfaye — AP Images for T-Mobile

Amid the announcement of yet another pro-consumer promotion at T-Mobile this week, CEO John Legere also spent plenty of time bashing rivals during his 90-minute CES keynote in Las Vegas.

Legere, whose outspokenness on Twitter has some comparing him to President-elect Donald Trump, offered eight predictions for 2017—starting with blasting upcoming wireless services from cable giants Comcast (CMCSA) and Charter Communications (CHTR). “I predict that cable will fail horribly, miserably, so bad that in 2018 at CES they will have had their asses kicked and they will be in full retreat mode,” he said.

In part, that’s because the cable companies are planning to use a combination of leased airwaves from Verizon and cellular over Wi-Fi to provide service. The combination will be expensive and won’t allow the cable services to offer unlimited data plans, Legere said. Before launching into his predictions, Legere announced that T-Mobile would be effectively cutting the price of its unlimited plan by eliminating add-on surcharges for fees and taxes.

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That led to his further prediction that troubles with Verizon’s streaming video offering Go90 will lead to merger discussions with Comcast, or in Legere’s view “two of the most hated brands in America.”

Still, he’s bullish on mobile video, adding a prediction that the majority of TV viewing will happen on mobile by the end of the year. About one-third of TV viewing currently happens on a device other than a TV set, mainly on phones and tablets.

Legere even got personal with his streaming video forecasts. He predicted that his regular, weekly Facebook Live appearances, Slow Cooker Sunday, will double its audience to 1 million viewers per show from 500,000 now. That would be bigger than the weekly primetime audiences of cable channels MTV, BRAVO, Discovery, TBS, Comedy Central or the Food Network, he noted.

Legere also predicted that his three main competitors, Sprint (S), AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) would shuffle their CEOs by year end.

And satellite TV service Dish Network (DISH) will no longer exist (at least independently) 12 months from now, gobbled up by some other player, Legere said. “I’d like to officially declare that Dish will die this year,” he said. “By the end of 2017, Dish will not be a standalone entity.”

During the CES event, Legere was also asked about his view of the President elect. The two sparred harshly on Twitter several times in 2015. But Legere now says that was ages ago. “We’ve certainly gotten way past it,” Legere said, adding he hoped to meet with Trump in the future.

He also expressed praise for Trump’s use of Twitter in general. “I am one of the kings of mean on Twitter,” Legere said. “I’ve been replaced by the way in that role–this guy’s got game on Twitter.”

Legere offered some boasts about his own company, saying T-Mobile (TMUS) will be the first to offer some customers download speeds of 1 gigabit. Carriers have been talking about such speeds, which are faster than most home broadband connections, for future 5G networks in a few years. But Legere says T-Mobile can hit 1 GB on its 4G LTE network this year, “not in our labs but on our public network.”

While cable companies are doomed, one of the major Internet companies–Google, Apple, Amazon or Facebook—will have more success getting into wireless, Legere said. Google (GOOGL) is most likely, as it already has a small service called Fi, which currently leases its airwaves from T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular (USM). “I don’t know how they’re going to come in, but they’re having fun with Pixel, they’ve got Android, they already do Fi,” he said. “But we’ll clean your clock, too.”

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