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