The Washington Post

Sprint’s enlisting small carriers in its war on Verizon and AT&T

Softbank president Masayoshi Son speaks during a press conference in Tokyo in this April 30, 2013 file photo. (TSUNOYOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son is rallying rural wireless companies to "fight back" against the nation's top carriers, including AT&T and Verizon.

Son pitched members of the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) Thursday on a roaming alliance that would effectively expand the cellular coverage of both Sprint and CCA's 100-odd members across the United States.

Son said Sprint would help pay for the smaller carriers' rollout of LTE and provide them with LTE-capable devices they can sell to customers — the better to take on what he described as a "duopoly [that] is taking over our country, America."

"Sprint will make a strong alliance," Son told CCA members in his remarks. "I will say, as the chairman of Sprint, we will make a commitment to make this happen."


Verizon maintains that its own agreements with small carriers are no less robust, saying in a statement to the Post that its leasing deals with 20 rural network operators enables customers of those services to access LTE away from cities and to roam on Verizon's LTE network when traveling.

Son's overtures to small wireless companies come as the company attempts to convince regulators to allow the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile. Authorities appeared lukewarm to the idea after rejecting AT&T's bid for T-Mobile just a handful of few years ago. The Federal Communications Commission says it would prefer to have four national wireless carriers over three.

That isn't stopping Son's charm offensive. Earlier this month, Son vowed to bring wireless data speeds up to par with some of the fastest wired broadband connections in the United States — a claim he reiterated Thursday.

"We need a new weapon to fight back," said Son. "With technology, with spectrum, with our services together, we can fight back. That's what I would like to offer to you."



Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on telecommunications and the Internet. Before joining the Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at the Atlantic.



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Brian Fung · March 27, 2014

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