The three largest US cable companies could join forces and enter the mobile market by acquiring T-Mobile US, Liberty Media chairman John Malone suggested.
Malone’s comments, reported by Bloomberg and made at a Lions Gate investor event, come less than a week after T-Mobile US’ outspoken CEO John Legere predicted big cable players attempting to move into mobile through MVNO deals would be unsuccessful.
“I predict big cable will have their a**es handed to them and will be in full retreat from their MVNO strategy by the end of the year,” Legere said in an annual predictions blog.
Despite this, Malone, who invested heavily in Europe on a mobile and cable convergence strategy through Liberty Global, believes the new administration of President elect Trump will open up a new era of consolidation. This, he suggested, could allow cable players to respond to the growing threat of US telecoms operators offering content services.
Both AT&T, through its acquisition of DirecTV, and Verizon, with its Go90 platform, are offering TV over broadband. AT&T also recently struck a deal to acquire Time Warner for $85.4 billion, which is now pending regulatory approval.
“Maybe the three major cable companies get together and buy T-Mobile,” said Malone, suggesting number one player Comcast could even merge with number two operator Charter (which is part owned by Malone), in the cable space.
Cox Communications is the third largest player and told Bloomberg it remains open to investments, partnerships and acquisitions in line with its strategy.