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Sprint today confirmed that they're discussing a "substantial investment" by Japan's Softbank and that "such a transaction could involve a change of control of Sprint". Nothing has been nailed down just yet, but that's still a very spicy possibility. Here is Sprint's statement in full.

"Sprint (NYSE: S) today confirmed that it is currently engaged in discussions with Softbank regarding a potential substantial investment by Softbank in Sprint. Although there can be no assurances that these discussions will result in any transaction or on what terms any transaction may occur, such a transaction could involve a change of control of Sprint. Sprint does not intend to comment further unless and until an agreement is reached."

An anonymous source told Reuters that the figure for a majority stake was somewhere in the area of $12.8 billion. While I doubt that an investment from Japan would mean that Sprint would necessarily get some of the super-sweet devices that are released over there; in fact, some Japanese media see this deal as a good way of getting American phones into Softbank stores.

I'm curious to see what kind of strategic direction Softbank would take Sprint in. Sprint was looking at making a counteroffer on MetroPCS, but failing that maybe outside investment is necessary to speed up LTE coverage expansion. How do you guys think a Softbank-controlled Sprint would differ from the current set-up, if at all? 

via: Reuters


Reader comments

Sprint confirms talks of Softbank investment


if softbank and sprint use the same spectrum this could be a good deal on both ends. sprint get a huge cash infusion to speed up the build out of the lte network but if all softback is getting is phones on their network im just wonder is that worth a reported 12.8 billion or am i missing something.

I tend to agree, this start up cash could greatly improve Sprint's current infrastructure. This would most likely result in better LTE service quality throughout the country which is something I think all Sprint users would be happy about.

"While I doubt that an investment from Japan would mean that Sprint would necessarily get some of the super-sweet devices that are released over there; in fact, some Japanese media see this deal as a good way of getting American phones into Softbank stores."

What American phones would the Japanese want anyways? They seem to get the better stuff than we do.

Not really, Japanese manufacturers produce a lot of gimicky phones, heavy on bloat and what not. Although this winter looks promising if 6 months behind!

A lot of the flagship phones for the major companies take a long time to head over here. As far as I know Softbank has been almost Iphone exclusive. would be a good deal for them to get some decent Android handsets in their shops faster than at present I would guess.

I have mixed feelings: on one side an influx of cash should hopefully help their LTE roll out (which, to be kind, is way behind AT&T and Verizon); on the other side if an investment group has control over Sprint, I could see them scrapping unlimited data or price increases if they are not seeing the type of ROI or cashflow that they expected. (Maybe I have just having visions of Gordon Gekko running Sprint.)

Doesn't matter to me. After the release of the next Nexus, or a few Nexi, I'll be off of Sprint. Been with them since 1999. Signal strength and data speeds have really deteriorated. Way overpriced for the service. Android updates are slow in coming and buggy. Gonna buy a Nexus straight up and go with Simple Mobile.

Oh brother, They need to stop all this fronting and faking. Sprint is really the #5 carrier here in the states. There cdma Lte network is just lousy as Verizon with it's poor inconsistent reception and dreadful signal strength. Cdma is garbage and so are it's networks. Sprint needs to stop pretending like they are a player in this market. Barf on Sprint and Verizon

i wish Google would buy Sprint and use it as a foundation to build their own Google network on and thus combined with Motorola have a true pure Google end-to-end offering.

Google would never buy a company that used CDMA technology since the whole rest of the world uses GSM.

I could see them buying T-Mobile if they were wanting to get into the carrier game, but they are obviously doing well enough without all the headaches that would bring.

never say never. they could integrate the spectrum. remember that this is the smartest collection of people on the planet that we are talking about here.

Not very insightful....

Sprint is moving to LTE and VOLTE would put Sprint on even technological ground as any other carrier. CDMA will eventually go away, on Sprint and Verizon. GSM will likely go away too...

This worries me. Sprints seems to be one of the last non-evil corporations. Everyone loves Dan Hesse. A change in ownership could change all that.

That being said, a lot of cash to get the network built more quickly would be a great thing.

Yeah, I would be worried that Sprint would change and become "evil" (greedy/money grubbing). They DESPERATELY need to accelerate their 3G/LTE upgrades, but at what cost??

I see it as a continued effort of unlimited as softbank also offers unlimited data as well... and also more handsets for both companys and in a perfect world a coverage in japan at an even more discount with any mobile added to soft bank.

This could actually be a pretty good thing for US wireless competition. Sprint has quite a bit of spectrum, but is currently being held up on aggressively rolling out LTE by dwindling cash reserves and the burden of legacy networks. Get a new corporate head to inject some cash, dump iDEN once and for all, and go hog wild on converting towers to LTE on multiple bands, and Sprint could run with the best.

Ending unlimited everything is what i'm waiting for. That's the only thing my wife and I are holding on too.

Here is what I found that is interesting.
Softbank wants Clearwire’s spectrum. Sprint and Softbank sell iPhones.
“Softbank already own 30 Mhz of 2.5 Ghz spectrum that they acquired on the cheap in a March 2010 transaction for only about $33 million. That means they already know what you can do with 2.5 Ghz. So do the folks at China Mobile who have announced a deal earlier this year with Clearwire for CLWR to carry their international traffic for their customers when they are in the United States.”
“Softbank, China Mobile and Clearwire have been the largest proponents of TD-LTE since they joined with Bharti and Vodafone to form the Global TD-LTE Initiative in February of 2011. All three operators are in the process of building TD-LTE technology on 2.5/2.6 GHz spectrum. Yet investors have remained skeptical about both TD-LTE and the 2.5/2.6 GHz spectrum. Softbank, which like Clearwire is investing in its own 2.5/2.6 GHz, TD-LTE network in Japan.”
“The TD-LTE variant will make up 25 percent of all LTE connections by 2016.”
“In the United States the most prominent backer of TD-LTE is Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR), which plans to deploy a TD-LTE network covering 5,000 base stations by June 2013. “

“Clearwire has been working with a range of partners, including China Mobile, to develop the TD-LTE ecosystem and ensure that TD-LTE chipsets will be compatible with FDD LTE networks so that its network and devices are not orphaned as more carriers move to LTE and the market matures.”
“In May, Clearwire and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) announced that Qualcomm had agreed to add support for Clearwire's TD-LTE frequency to its multi-mode LTE chipsets.”
“Qualcomm said it will support the frequency by adding the 3GPP's Band 41 (B41) radio frequency to its line of multi-mode LTE chips. The silicon vendor said LTE chipsets supporting the B41 band in combination with other LTE FDD/TDD bands are scheduled for commercial availability later this year. Qualcomm’s MSM8960 Chipset is in most Sprint LTE Phones”
“TD-LTE offers asymmetric use of unpaired spectrum. It allocates separate channels for outgoing and incoming signals, emulating full-duplex transmission over a half-duplex communication link. - 2.57−2.62GHz in the US and China,] and 2.545-2.575GHz in Japan”

CLWR’s 2500 MHz spectrum is not so far from the PCS spectrum at 1900 or the AWS spectrum at 1700/2100 – so the basic physics are not all that different – all three bands face challenges relative to 700 MHz spectrum. CLWR’s spectrum is still more expensive to build out, but not dramatically so.
• CLWR’s spectrum is actually better than the other bands for satisfying the growing demand for bandwidth. As management has explained repeatedly, the higher frequencies actually permit more efficient use of spectrum for high-volume data applications (which is where the industry is rapidly moving).
• CLWR has wider bands of contiguous spectrum than any other player – in other words they have several very fat pipes versus the several narrow pipes that Verizon and AT&T (T) must use. As a subscriber, this means you’re much less likely see slower speeds when the network is busy. From CLWR’s standpoint, this means they can load a lot more customers onto their network and provide each of them with higher bandwidth applications such as streaming video. These fat pipes have tremendous value in today’s “everything, everywhere” world.