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Japan's Softbank Buying Sprint, Creating Third-Largest Global Carrier 59

Posted by timothy
from the anticipate-xenophobes dept.
New submitter metallurge writes "Japan's third-largest wireless carrier intends to acquire Sprint, the third-largest U.S. carrier for 20.1 billion U.S. dollars, creating the third-largest global carrier. After the transaction is completed, Softbank will own 70% of the newly-created 'New Sprint,' which will maintain current Sprint CEO Dan Hesse in that role. How this will affect Deutsche Telekom/T-Mobile's attempt to merge with Sprint reseller MetroPCS is unclear."
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Japan's Softbank Buying Sprint, Creating Third-Largest Global Carrier

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  • MVNO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @09:30AM (#41668171)

    Isn't sprint like the king of MVNO operators in the USA, like they make more dough off MVNO's reselling them than via retail ops directly selling Sprint, or so I've heard? I wonder if softbank will change strategies. That would certainly shake things up. Hope the MVNO's have solid contracts and/or deep pockets.

    • I'm with Credo, which uses Sprint's network. They aren't the cheapest around, but they have good service and the biggest selling point is that they aren't evil. They give to a lot of progressive charities (in fact they give the option of rounding up your bill to the next dollar or five to donate) and they stood up to the government a few months back when they demanded customer information without a warrant (at least everyone was pretty sure it was Credo, the company was being kept secret but some people wer

    • by afidel (530433)

      Sprint now owns three of their MVNO's and earns a significant chunk of their revenue through them so I doubt they'll be abandoning the model anytime soon.

    • Sprint has always made more money selling to operators than to end users. This goes all the way back to the company's creation, when they were part of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Little known fact: Sprint is an acronym (Southern Pacific Railroad Intercontinental Network Telecommunications).

      They started with selling long distance service to corporations as "private lines" in competition to AT&T using the microwave network and fiber the railroad built on their right-of-way. With a court decision al

  • by pecosdave (536896) * on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @09:32AM (#41668185) Homepage Journal

    Been a customer of theirs going on my third year. When I get a great signal there's often very little back-haul. I really feel screwed over the way they lured me in with the promise of WiMax, and their LTE is lacking most of the time. Not to mention now that I've upgraded my phone I pay more every month, but they took away my unlimited tethering data plan - they still charge the same.

    • by pesho (843750)
      I am in a similar position. Unfortunately where I live the only other choice is ATT and they are not much more appealing. I think I am going to switch to Ting mobile. They are a Sprint MVNO so the network will suck as badly as it sucks now, but they will be at least two fold cheaper. This is after you account for a paying a full price on a shiny new android phone.
    • I live in Omaha NE, Sprint still hasn't turned on their 4G LTE. Verizon's had theirs for ages, but I don't want to worry about overage fees. I always go over 2gb per month. Unlimited data is one of my requirements for a carrier.

      Sprint likes to throw around a map of all the places about to have 4G, but they never want to get into tentative dates.

      T-Mobile isn't in this area or I'd jump ship. Unlimited data and 4G LTE. I even like Carly Foulkes.

      As for the tethering - if you're willing to root your phone th

    • I'm still using Sprint, myself, as my former employer originally issued most of their employees Nextel phones years ago, and it finally quit making sense to continue on with those. (Sprint bought out Nextel and has been slowly herding people off of that network.)

      I don't work for them anymore, but I opted to keep the phone and service for now. (I have an iPhone 4s so at least the handset isn't too bad.)

      Unlike a lot of people, I guess I never really felt screwed over by Sprint -- but I've also tried to keep r

      • by pecosdave (536896) *

        Handset choices are what brought me to Sprint.

        When the original Evo 4G was new there wasn't anything that really rivaled it, a few came close, but none beat it for at least a few months. Now my Evo 4G LTE is nice, but harder to root. I've still got factory firmware and I'm feeling the abuse.

        I could totally write a whole new rant about how they abuse their position with shoving spyware and other shitty software down our throats.

      • by jftitan (736933)

        Same here,

        I've had my Sprint service back when "PCS" meant "Professional Customer Service". The Sprint/Nextel buyout, then up to recent history, the T-Mobile attempt, only to be foiled by AT&T making a slightly higher bid.

        I''ve had my phone number from sprint (never ported) for 15 years. Its funny when people ask me today whats my phone number, meanwhile most people around me change cell phone carriers including phone numbers like they do changing underwear. It just appalls

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sorry--SoftBank is the suckiest carrier in Japan--terrible signal quality, despite a lot of advertisements about how they've "improved." They used to attract switchers as the sole provider of the iPhone, but as they no longer have exclusivity, their gain in market share has slowed to a trickle. A lot of SB customers in Japan are gnashing their teeth over this acquisition, in which SB effectively invested its profits into a totally new market rather than re-investing into their core customer base.

      Having said

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If they come out with one single phone that works in both Japan and the USA - for frequent travellers - they will suck less.

    • by Kazymyr (190114)

      Well, first of all there never was any talk of LTE on Sprint. Their WiMax finally began extending to relevant areas (they started by covering some rural areas in Georgia - WTF?) I agree coverage sucks in some areas, but it's pretty good here. There's unlimited data included, at a time where few other carriers can claim the same. As for tethering, there are always 3rd party applications that allow you to do it. I just hope that if they do get bought the unlimited data doesn't get pulled.

    • by Loopy (41728)

      Been a sprint customer since the late 90s. Started with a Palm Pre, upgraded to an EVO 4G (WiMax) and am now on a Galaxy S3 LTE.

      The WiMax coverage for the EVO was primarily in the larger areas as people have said but I knew that before I bought the damned phone; I'd have felt silly buying a "high speed data" phone without researching whether the product was designed to work in my area. ;) WiMax, where it was available, was always very fast and connections were reliable enough that I never noticed anything u

      • by pecosdave (536896) *

        Funny - they refused to grandfather my unlimited tethering when going from the Evo 4G to 4G LTE they insisted I had to have a different plan for a different connection type.

        I know all about corporate spin.

        BTW, I spent quite a bit of time within 20 miles of either end of the Lincoln tunnel towards the end of the summer. Their coverage wasn't all that hot in that are either - which really surprised me - Houston had better coverage than NYC.

  • by GeneralTurgidson (2464452) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @09:38AM (#41668261)
    CenturyLink could have bought them.
    • Somewhat related but CenturyLink DID buy the old wireline assets that Sprint spun off as Embarq.
  • Even if this causes a huge improvement in less dropped calls and speed, it will take a while for any magical Sprint transformation. Sprint service in my town has been miserable for over a year solid, I'm not waiting around for anything.

    When my contract is up, I'm headed to greener pastures.
    • Sprint doesn't drop calls in my neck of the woods, but the data speeds are godawful slow. Meanwhile, Verizon has had LTE in the area for over a year now, although Verizon costs more.

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @09:42AM (#41668297)

    Sprint has apparently already moved it's towers to Japan

  • Third largest? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    How does a 30 million subscriber operator in Japan combined with Sprint become the third-largest global carrier - it'll have well under 100 million subscribers, so well behind all of: China Mobile, Vodafone, Airtel, AMX, Telefonica, Orange, VimpelCom, China Unicom, MTN, Etisalata, Axiata, TeliaSonera, Telenor etc etc etc

    • Sprint is also AS1239 (sprintlink) if they're counting that.

  • Gleat (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Now I have to get used to calling it Splint.

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      the japanese do have an 'r' sound distinct from 'l', but it is pronounced in a manner halfway between the english 'l' and 'r' sound. an english speaker could start to make the 'l' sound, but make the tongue stop short of the roof of the mouth, almost in the position for the letter 'd'

  • Will this finally get Sprint on board with Windows8 phones, or do I need to keep getting refurbed flip-phones?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Softbank doesn't sell any Windows phones in Japan. The only vendor who does is AU (KDDI), although I've never seen an actual customer with one outside of a shop.. Currently Softbank sells the iPhone, a bunch of Japanese Android and flip-phone models and the Motorola Razr.

      Incidentally, if you want a Samsung in Japan, Docomo is the best bet.

  • Who are we? (Score:5, Funny)

    by CCarrot (1562079) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @11:12AM (#41669237)

    "Japan's third-largest wireless carrier intends to acquire Sprint, the third-largest U.S. carrier for 20.1 Billion U.S. dollars, creating the third-largest global carrier. ..."

    We're number three! We're number three!

  • by evilviper (135110) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @12:38PM (#41670393) Journal

    What Sprint desperately needs, right now, is a huge influx of capital. They've got some extremely valuable frequencies, which they are freeing-up in just a few months as they kick people off iDEN/Nextel. These lower frequencies are the difference between Sprint having piss-poor coverage outside of the most dense cities, and them having deep coverage that can really compete with AT&T and Verizon. Sprint's poor cellular coverage is directly related to using the 1.9GHz spectrum, and needing more towers to get equivalent coverage.

    Combine those lower frequencies with LTE, and start on a building-spree, and Sprint could put together a respectable LTE network pretty quickly. Consumers haven't really embraced 4G in a big-way, for whatever reason (cost, coverage, power-sucking chipsets, etc), so Sprint isn't terribly disadvantaged just yet.

    What's more, they COULD have a huge advantage over AT&T/Verizon right now, if they would leverage WiMax during the LTE build-out... Just start selling CDMA+WiMax+LTE handsets, and let them use the fastest service available, and doing the LTE build-out FIRST in areas that currently lack WiMax. Sprint could have an impressive "4G" coverage map right away, if dual WiMax/LTE phones existed, and Sprint leveraged both to good effect from the start (ie. NOW). Their status as the only carrier who is NOT capping or throttling customers due to data usage would make their 4G service an even bigger selling point.

    They could also double-down on this strategy, by using WiMax/LTE for their dumb phones as well, if in a bandwidth-limited form, moving people off of 3G/CDMA that much faster, and putting an end to the need to spend resources to continue expanding their current 3G network, which will soon be getting far less use, no matter what.

  • ... buys third-largest to get third-largest ...
    Recursive??? :D

  • They probably have a roaming agreement, but no, MetroPCS is an independent company with its own spectrum and network.

    As far as the effect on the T-Metro merger goes, I doubt it'll have any impact whatsoever. Unfortunately.

  • So the company whose coverage is third to worst where I live, has overall coverage that is third largest worldwide.

    Nice.

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