News tagged: Sprint Mobile Broadband
Confirming recent leaks from the agency
, the FCC today officially announced that they have approved SoftBank's acquisition of Sprint, as well as Sprint's acquisition of the remainder of Clearwire. Approval of the deals was unanimous
, with Republican and Democrat Commissioners alike insisting that the deal would help improve competition in the wireless sector, and lead to increased wireless broadband expansion.
The increased investment in Sprint's and Clearwire's networks is likely to accelerate deployment of mobile broadband services and enhance competition in the mobile marketplace, promoting customer choice, innovation and lower prices," acting FCC boss Mignon Clyburn said in a statement
As they're usually inclined to do, the FCC picked a slow post holiday Friday to release the news, in order to lessen attention on the move. The merger didn't come with any serious, meaningful conditions, and Sprint won't have to divest any spectrum.
"Just two years ago, the wireless industry was at the doorstep of duopoly, but with these transformative transactions, we are one step closer to a stronger Sprint which will better serve consumers, challenge the market share leaders and drive innovation in the American economy," Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said in a statement.
With Sprint often acting more and more like AT&T and Verizon
in recent years just to keep pace, it might be worth waiting before popping the bubbly. More
providers doesn't magically equate to more competition
, though you have to think that a healthier Sprint (and possibly a Dish/T-Mobile merger) has to be better than AT&T and Verizon utterly dominating a smattering a smaller and perpetually unstable carriers.
The Justice Department has requested that the FCC defer a planned $20 billion merger between Sprint and SoftBank, giving the government more time to review the planned deal. A filing on the FCC website
states that the Department of Justice, FBI, and Homeland Security are collectively reviewing the deal with a particular eye on national security.
The Washington Post
notes the obvious, observing that the large cash infusion courtesy of SoftBank's acquisition of Sprint will not only help fund Sprint's LTE services, it could help save Sprint's unlimited data offerings. Sprint's "Network Vision" overhaul is expected to cost at least $5 billion over the next few years, and Sprint doled out a large $15 billion payment to net the iPhone.
With Sprint's recent earnings less awful than usual
, Sprint is apparently feeling rather chatty and this week invited a select group of bloggers and reporters to tour their Kansas City headquarters (I apparently forgot to send Dan Hesse a Christmas card). During the tour, CEO Dan Hesse doled out numerous sound bytes on everything from their LTE build to the AT&T, Verizon duopoly.
Not too surprisingly, a Comcast insider tells Broadband Reports that the company will be phasing out their Comcast "Internet2Go" wireless broadband service over the next six months. The move comes on the heel of a new Comcast deal with Verizon to bundle Verizon LTE services, with Comcast saying they'll start offering the service in four markets early next year. story continues..
Since their botched Nextel acquisition resulted in a huge exodus of annoyed customers, Sprint has been trying to do things a little differently from AT&T and Verizon, in the hopes that being a little more consumer friendly would net them customers. Those efforts have involved retaining unlimited smartphone data plans, while AT&T and Verizon both shifted to the low cap and high per byte overage model. story continues..
Like Sprint's planned migration to LTE, it's not a particularly well-kept secret that the company will finally get the iPhone 5 this month -- or that the company plans to continue offering unlimited data plans for the device in the hopes of giving AT&T and Verizon a little more competition. Despite unlimited data and a number of ever-dwindling pro-consumer policies
, Sprint hasn't quite seen the kind of subscriber growth they'd like -- and blames most of that on the lack of the iPhone.
Back in 2008 several carriers were sued by states like Minnesota for quietly extending user long-term contracts every time users made slight plan changes. As part of the result of those suits, carriers implemented not only pro-rated ETFs, but 30-day money back guarantee promises
. Over the last few years they've slowly been backing away from the 30 day promise, Verizon canceling their 30 day "test drive" in 2009
. Sprint is belatedly following suit, Phone Scoop
noting that Sprint is shortening their 30 day free trial to 14 days for new lines of service, accessories, and upgrades. Not only is Sprint shortening the free trial window, they're charging users for any services used during the trial -- backing off from the money back guarantee promise implemented in 2010
in the hopes of appealing to more subscribers.
Last week Clearwire announced they'd taken on $1.33 billion in additional debt
to help finance their continued deployment of their Mobile WiMax network. Sprint, who currently holds a 54% stake in Clearwire, has had an increasingly tenuous relationship with Clearwire. In a statement released this week
by Sprint, the company proclaimed they had no plan to acquire Clearwire. Sprint did
say the company struck a new deal with Clearwire allowing them to Sprint to reduce their voting rights below 50 percent without reducing their financial stake in Clearwire -- lessening the financial risk should Clearwire default on their substantial debt. The statement comes on the heels of Sprint announcing a $2.5 billion network improvement plan
that Sprint employees privately tell Broadband Reports absolutely sets the stage for a migration to LTE.
Both Sprint and Clearwire have repeatedly stated
they want to leave the option open to migrate to LTE should they see that the Mobile WiMax future isn't particularly bright. That's a very real possibility given significant, global incumbent support for the LTE platform.
At the moment Sprint still caps their EVDO 3G mobile data service (but not smartphone users) at about 5 GB a month, though the company doesn't cap their Mobile WiMax (4G) users. That doesn't mean they won't someday, Sprint tells Network World
While Sprint's first Mobile WiMax smartphone is considered a hit
by most, the company's still struggling to supply enough phones to meet demand. The company recently claimed that unlike the Verizon HTC Incredible, the supply problems are not tied to hardware shortages
-- though a new article in the Wall Street Journal
appears to contradict that. The Journal notes that Sprint has re-worked executive compensation so that it's tied to the success of the 4G network. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, referring to a looming LTE launch by Verizon, tells the Journal: "We thought we would have more of a head start than we'll end up having."
Clearwire has repeatedly stated they'll make the jump to LTE
if that's which way the wind blows -- and given the overwhelming support for the standard among the world's biggest carriers -- the breeze does seem to be leaning that way. Now Sprint has also come out and issued an RFP
exploring the plausibility of converting their CDMA/EVDO network to LTE.
Sprint has announced story continues..
that the company is planning to dole out some significant attention to their prepaid service options under both the Sprint and Virgin Mobile brands. According to the company, they'll be shaking up their prepaid voice and data plans as of May 12.
After doing the same thing last year and earlier this year, Sprint appears poised to tinker with their wireless user fees early next year. According to a memo obtained by Phonenews
, Sprint's "regulatory line charge" will double to forty cents per line. The fee, like most such fees, isn't an official government fee
-- but is dressed up to look like one so you get mad at Uncle Sam, not the carrier. It's simply a cost of doing business added below the line, and such fees allow carriers to effectively slowly raise prices on consumers without changing their advertised rates. According to the memo, Sprint will also be adding a new $4.99 fee for Account Spending Limit (ACL) customers. As is usually the case, such changes constitute a significant enough change to your contract that you should be able to cancel service without paying an early termination fee.
"I just received an email
from Sprint that 4G (WiMAX) is now available in Chi-town," Chicago resident and Broadband Reports reader bshelly
writes in. "I also checked the Clear.com website and confirmed that Chicago is indeed live and orderable." Chicago isn't the only new market on tap this week.
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