Sprint and Altice USA, the fourth largest cable company in America, have agreed to a strategic MVNO agreement that will allow Altice to launch its own wireless carrier using Sprint’s network, the two companies announced last night.
The deal comes just a day after the merger talks between T-Mobile and Sprint were officially called off.
Altice, which operates Optimum and Suddenlink, and was previously known as Cablevision, did not say when it would launch its mobile network. Considering how long it took Comcast to launch Xfinity Mobile on Verizon, however, it should take around a year for the network to get up and running.
Besides a nice check from Altice for using its network, Sprint will also get help in “densifying” its network from the cable company. This will likely manifest itself in Sprint customers being able to use Optimum’s Wi-Fi network, which could help fill some of the holes in Sprint’s coverage. Sprint will also have access to Altice’s cable infrastructure to transmit cellular data and help build out its 5G network, according to Reuters.
Sprint CFO Tarek Robbiati said the deal with Altice would’ve been completed regardless of whether Sprint’s merger with T-Mobile went through, and noted that Sprint is open to other MVNO deals with cable companies if those deals give Sprint access to their networks.
In a separate announcement, Sprint majority owner SoftBank announced it would increase its stake in the mobile network. Currently, SoftBank owns 82 percent of the company. It noted that its stake wouldn’t exceed 85 percent of outstanding common stock; exceeding that number would trigger a tender offer.
Without the T-Mobile deal, Sprint will have to work on deals like this if it hopes to ever catch up to AT&T and Verizon in terms of network quality and subscribers.