Japanese telecommunications company Softbank will purchase an ownership stake of 70% in Sprint for $20 billion that includes $8 billion in stock. Softbank is calling their new acquisition “New Sprint.”
Sprint is the U.S.'s third-largest mobile carrier behind Verizon and AT&T. The Sprint purchase is the biggest-ever overseas acquisition by a Japanese company. It’s the latest consolidation among big players in the U.S. mobile industry. (T-Mobile recently announced their partnership with MetroPCS.)
Softbank’s CEO Masayoshi Son stated his case for this being a good partnership for both companies. One big reason is that they are both developing LTE on the same frequency. Combining their efforts will move the process along more quickly and cost less to implement.
If nothing else, Softbank/Sprint will present some big competition for AT&T and Verizon – companies that almost completely own the U.S. telecom market. The technology required to bring the latest phones, national networks and high-speed connectivity to the market is too expensive for all the smaller carriers. As Dan Hesse, Sprint’s CEO, described it “This is pro-competitive and pro-consumer” because it helps fight the “AT&T and Verizon duopoly.”
With some of the Softbank cash infusion, Sprint can focus on improving its unlimited data plan for smartphones. Sprint is the only one of the three that still provides unlimited plans to new customers.
Right now Sprint is also the only major carrier that still offers both the iPhone and an unlimited plan. If Sprint can expand its 4G network to more markets, they will have a very valuable product for consumers.
When the news hit yesterday, it crashed the Sprint website. It’s back up now.