Will Sprint partner with Comcast and Charter Communications to help them offer wireless phone services? That’s one of the things the companies are discussing — leading Sprint to put merger talks with T-Mobile on hold — The Wall Street Journal reports.
Sprint, Comcast, and Charter have agreed to negotiate exclusively to the end of the July, the paper adds.
The companies are still weighing how a collaboration might work. The No. 1 and 2 cable operator might invest in Sprint as part of an agreement to also use its network to bolster their Wi-Fi focused mobile services.
Another possiblity that the Journal calls “much less likely” would be an outright acquisition of Sprint, which is controlled by Japan’s SoftBank Group.
Sprint shares are worth $31.9 billion based on today’s stock price; it also has $32.6 billion of debt.
The No. 4 wireless company abandoned an effort to merge with No. 3 T-Mobile in 2014 after it became apparent that anti-trust officials would oppose the union.
A deal with Comcast and Charter probably would not face the same problem: They vow to add to competition in wireless. The cable companies consider the service an important part of a communications bundle with TV, internet, and wired phone — especially after AT&T, the No. 2 wireless company, bought DirecTV.
Last month the cable giants said that they would jointly “explore potential opportunities for operational cooperation in their respective wireless businesses to accelerate and enhance each company’s ability to participate in the national wireless marketplace.”
Comcast plans to launch its Xfinity Mobile service before the end of June. It would be available to customers in its existing markets who buy other services.
A similar offering from Charter is due in 2018.
They currently plan to use their Wi-Fi networks to handle many phone or mobile decide connections. Cell calls would be handled by Verizon as part of a deal it made with leading cable companies several years ago.