Altice USA, the nation's fourth-largest cable company, is teaming up with Sprint, the nation's fourth-largest wireless network, in order to create a new wireless carrier. Financial terms were not disclosed. The latter will employ Sprint's network to give its subscribers access to wireless voice and data.
The traditional MVNO (a tortuous acronym if ever there was one) is better understood as a Wholesale/Retail arrangement where the retailer (the MVNO) undertakes to build and manage its own back end involving billing, marketing, customer help and the rest of it, essentially buying network capacity from the "real" mobile network operator and selling it under its own brand. Charter's wireless service is expected to arrive in the first quarter of next year.
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Cable operators may see bundling mobile service with cable and internet offerings as a way to reduce customer churn as they continue to lose pay-TV subscribers to cheaper alternatives such as over-the-top services.
US cable companies have begun venturing into the wireless market as a way to bundle more services to reduce churn, or customer defections, at a time when more consumers are canceling cable subscriptions. However in a Monday press call, Sprint CFO Tarek Robbiati said the carrier will leverage Altice's service footprint across 21 sates to deploy "thousands of small cells". "Sprint is a critical part of our plan to ensure that we can deliver our vision to American consumers and we are very confident in its future".
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This isn't Altice's first foray into wireless though, as it's a subsidiary of Altice NV, which has more than 26 million mobile customers in countries including France, Portugal, and the Dominican Republic. This particular MVNO partnership goes deeper than the typical agreement - instead of just using Sprint's service, Altice is being embedded deep into Sprint's network.
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