Light Reading

Rural Carriers: SoftBank Will Fund Your LTE

Sarah Thomas
3/27/2014
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SAN ANTONIO -- CCA Global Expo -- SoftBank's Chairman and CEO, Masayoshi Son, is not only offering Sprint's network for rural LTE deployments. He's also offering to fund deployments for the smaller carriers.

Doesn't Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) have a negative cashflow, you might be thinking? Yes, it does, Son acknowledges, but SoftBank Corp. certainly doesn't, and it's willing to use its money to ensure LTE gets built in rural America.

"Rural areas, we are not building out ourselves, we are not servicing ourselves, so it is a quicker and better complementary situation if we help them deploy their LTE and we collaborate with each other," Son told reporters here Thursday. "That way, we have a better partnership to fight back."

SoftBank, with Sprint, spearheaded a partnership with the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) and NetAmerica Alliance LLC to form roaming relationships with rural carriers and give them access to Sprint's LTE network. But Son is willing to take it a step further by providing them capital and maybe even showing up with a hard hat at their network builds. (See Sprint Joins Forces With Rural America on LTE.)

"If you need LTE equipment, capex, we'll strongly support you financially and systemically," Son promised.

He's doing so because he says the CCA members providing local access in rural areas are being challenged by the duopoly of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless , and customers need more choice in devices. He's trying to convince regulators he's serving the US public interest. However, he could also be hurting his case, given that he's now 100 rural carriers strong in fighting the duopoly. (See Son: Dish Could Be Sprint's Great Ally.)

"We would like to have a partnership with rural carriers, and we don't overlap," Son said. "But we need even deeper scale to fight back. Otherwise, if you are cornered and fighting alone by yourself, it's not enough power to fight back."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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MarkC73
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MarkC73,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/31/2014 | 3:12:44 AM
Re: Son of "The Godfather"
Well someone who buys Sprint has got to be outside of the norm.  Any Details on how these partnerships will work?  Shared Funding or long term access contracts?
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
3/28/2014 | 10:20:36 AM
Re: Son of "The Godfather"
Just think if Legere ends up working for Son, it could be a powerful combination of business acumen and an outgoing/obnoxious marketing machine.
Bill Van
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Bill Van,
User Rank: Moderator
3/27/2014 | 10:28:49 PM
Re: Son of "The Godfather"
Hey Sarah, Softbank's Son is looking more and more every day like  Al Gore's  "Darth Vader's"  cable pioneer John Malone.  Son is also looking like being as disruptive in the mobile industry as T- Mobile's John Legere.  
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/27/2014 | 6:03:10 PM
Regulating
First Comcast is funding Internet for low-income users, and now this. I like seeing service providers kiss up to regulators!
Liz Greenberg
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Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/27/2014 | 5:55:44 PM
Re: SoftBank Corp. certainly doesn't, and it's willing to use its money to ensure LTE gets built in rural America.
It was probably started before their keynotes, negotiated in between and sealed after!  It is a great idea if it works.  The big 2 could use more competition so maybe this will work.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
3/27/2014 | 5:16:50 PM
Re: Son of "The Godfather"
I agree, Ritch, but I think it could backfire, especially if T-Mobile joins too.
SarahReedy
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SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
3/27/2014 | 4:54:16 PM
Re: SoftBank Corp. certainly doesn't, and it's willing to use its money to ensure LTE gets built in rural America.
Interesting! I wonder if they forged the deal in between their keynotes this morning...
Bill Van
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Bill Van,
User Rank: Moderator
3/27/2014 | 4:36:41 PM
SoftBank Corp. certainly doesn't, and it's willing to use its money to ensure LTE gets built in rural America.
I guess this is why Son sold his eAccess company to Yahoo Japan today. Yes to fund this rural buildout. lol

 
RitchBlasi
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RitchBlasi,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/27/2014 | 3:48:11 PM
Son of "The Godfather"
I can hear Vito Corleone now, "if I do this favor for you I might need to ask for your help in the future."  Pretty smart to me - "hey FCC, you're worried about rural broadband services?  I'll bypass that wired stuff and make it mobile.  And all you have to do is approve a few mergers for me."
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/27/2014 | 3:25:03 PM
Re: Put Son to work
Why is this starting to feel like a 21st-century remake of Green Acres?
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