In its battle to acquire Sprint, Japanese carrier SoftBank has a surprising ally — Intel. The chipmaker’s CEO Paul Otellini sent an email to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski last week saying that he supports SoftBank, headed by the enigmatic Masayoshi Son, over a competing bid from TV provider Dish Network. "Son-san’s vision to build a high speed competitive third national network is very compelling," writes Otellini. "We need this competition in the wireless space as the ATT / Verizon model is not giving that to consumers at this time."

It’s hard to tell what effect Otellini’s recommendation will have, but it’s nonetheless interesting that he and Intel are taking a position on the matter. As it stands, SoftBank has said that it’s on track to close the $20.1 billion deal with Sprint by July 1st, but Dish contends that its $25.5 billion offer is a better deal for shareholders. Dish also raised concerns about the national security implications of a SoftBank / Sprint merger, although the companies' promise not to install Huawei networking equipment seems to have put them to rest.

As far as Otellini’s motivations for taking SoftBank’s side, an Intel spokesperson tells Reuters that "SoftBank is a business partner which is why there was an Otellini visit. His email to the FCC reflects our view that the addition of a third competitor to the market will be beneficial to consumers and SoftBank has a reputation as being a market disrupter which can provide benefits as well."