Rural Carriers: SoftBank Will Fund Your LTE

Rural carriers can use Sprint's LTE network, and Sprint will fund deployments if the carriers can't afford to do it on their own, Sprint's new boss says.

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

March 27, 2014

2 Min Read
Rural Carriers: SoftBank Will Fund Your LTE

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

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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