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T-Mobile CEO on 5G rollout: ‘We’re ahead in this race’

T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert joins Yahoo Finance's Brian Sozzi to discuss the company's latest guidence, and what to expect in 2021.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Welcome back. Shares of T-Mobile hitting fresh all-time highs after announcing the un-carrier posted a net addition of 5.6 million customers in 2020, fueled in part by its ongoing investment into 5G technology. For more on that, I want to get to Yahoo Finance's Brian Sozzi, who has the CEO of T-Mobile, Mike Sievert, standing by. Soz.

BRIAN SOZZI: All right, thanks so much, Zack. Mike, always good to see. You lots to talk about with you today. Before we touch upon your guidance you came out with yesterday, would love to get your thoughts on what happened yesterday in the Capitol Hill. You have really spent a good number of years talking to politicians, helping to get that Sprint deal through. I'm sure you have a lot of friends down there. What are your thoughts?

MIKE SIEVERT: Thanks, Brian, great to be with you. And yeah, you know, what we witnessed yesterday was just a shock. And our instincts when something big happens in this country are always immediately a couple things. One, make sure our people are safe. And they were. We closed stores, we secured some perimeters. And then secondly, make sure our network is operating, so that the public is safe and connected.

And so after taking care of all that, of course, the next instinct is to speak up. I reached out to all nearly 80,000 of our employees yesterday to simply make it clear that we have to denounce things like we saw yesterday. People disrupting our sacred Democratic processes. And so we need a different discourse and dialogue in this country, but we also need to move on and turn the page. And the people have spoken and in two weeks we'll have new leadership. And I hope we'll have a new tone as well.

BRIAN SOZZI: Just based on what we did see yesterday, Mike, as a company that's so involved with government regulations and having to watch them closely, what's your level of confidence that the incoming administration can work with Republicans and public companies such as yours could get things done and you can continue to operate or get back to some form of normal?

MIKE SIEVERT: Well, listen, as you've been tracking T-Mobile, our company has been engineering a historic turnaround, and then a success cycle and growth cycle for eight years. And that means for four of those years, we were thriving under the Obama-Biden administration, and for four under the current administration. And so look our model is resilient.

It's about building the best network with the best 5G technology. We're so far ahead on that race. And delivering it at the best value. And in history of this industry, no one's been able to simultaneously do both of those things. And as long as we focus on that, the broader political backdrop doesn't affect our model a lot.

BRIAN SOZZI: Let's talk about some of that resilience, Mike. Within that guidance you put out, you beat your fourth quarter postpaid net additions by more than two times. How do you think that came about? Because the environment in the fourth quarter was really quite competitive. Certainly a lot of activity around the new Apple 5G iPhone.

MIKE SIEVERT: Thank you. We beat the number. We guided on postpaid phones, and that was $824,000, so we beat it, but not by double. So we weren't quite that bad at forecasting accurately. But it was a big beat. And by the way. 2020, 5.5 million postpaid net additions, the highest in our company's history. And it really shows you that people want a great value from a reliable network, from a company that will put them first and treat them right and change the rules of this industry in their favor.

And we're executing regardless of the circumstances we see. Every quarter throws something different at us. And what I think investors expect us to do and what we reliably do, is find a way to navigate the challenges and deliver growth that outpaces our competition. And we won't bat 1,000, but over the long haul, our model is one that's predicated on outgrowing the competition and then translating that growth into enterprise value creation by unlocking the synergies of this historic merger.

BRIAN SOZZI: Mike, a lot of folks I talk to on Wall Street are, they're really fixated I think on this spectrum auction. But all indication, it has been very, very competitive. A lot of big numbers being thrown around. Results not out yet. It will come likely in February. What are you bidding for and how competitive is that process for spectrum right now, 5G spectrum?

MIKE SIEVERT: Yeah, thanks, Brian. According to the rules, I can't comment on the auction, even indirectly. But what I can comment on, is our strategy as a business and our network progress. And we have for a long time been focused, for years been focused on building 5G around the midband. And we have smashed our goal. We just hit 106 million people covered with the highest capacity variant that we have of 5G, which is called ultra capacity 5G. We've got a lot more than that covered with 5G, but 106 million with the highest capacity variant.

You know what that compares to with Verizon? Two million. And we're going to 200 by the end of this year. From 100 to 200. Just run the math. That means that every single week this year, we will roll out more ultra capacity 5G than Verizon has done in their entire two years they've been at this. Every week. And it just shows the stark differences in our models. And ours is predicated on midband technology, on being way out in front. And we're moving fast. And we're ahead in this race. And it's going to be very difficult for anybody to catch up.

BRIAN SOZZI: And it should be noted for viewers, that Verizon, is in fact, the parent company of Yahoo Finance. Mike, before I let you go, really now your stock is up about 70% over the past year. Is a big part that you think the synergies you are getting from the Sprint deal? Did you finish with $1.2 billion in synergies last year? And how much more can you bring out? Is that a similar number that might come into play this year too?

MIKE SIEVERT: Yeah, we've signaled we think it'll be at least double that run rate in 2021. And if you think about when we put this model together in 2018, we've been at this a long time. The government gave us a long time to plan this merger, we talked about massive enterprise value creation. And what we've been signaling since then, that if anything, we see more synergy potential than when we first wrote the plan for this merger. And we see it potentially coming sooner. And so those things are very powerful for investors.

And the bottom line is, this model has tremendous potential to generate massive cash flow. And to do that while transforming the lives of tens of millions of people's digital experience. And that's exciting. And investors get excited about that for obvious reasons. We're a pure play business that executes well in an industry that we love and that we're good at. And one that's consistent with the trends.

All, I don't have to tell you, Brian, you're at Yahoo Finance, but all content and communications of all forms are going digital. And the digital world is going mobile. And so we're a pure play mobile digital company. And we're good at it. And we execute. And that gets investors excited.

BRIAN SOZZI: All right. Well, to that end, Mike Sievert, I will catch you on Twitter very shortly. T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert, always good to speak with you. Stay safe, we'll talk soon.

MIKE SIEVERT: Thanks, man.

BRIAN SOZZI: Zack, back to you.