Sprint is still in talks with Charter Communications and Comcast over a potential wireless partnership and other forms of collaboration even as the two-month exclusivity period between the three parties ended, people familiar with the negotiations said on Friday. The newly uncovered information sheds additional light on the initial reports about the talks, with industry sources previously claiming that the fourth largest mobile service provider in the United States agreed to an exclusive negotiation period with the two cable giants in June. Given how the new report indicates that the said two-month period ended on Thursday, it seems that Sprint, Charter, and Comcast have actually started their talks on May 27.
The entities have yet to reach an agreement but haven't given up on the idea of a partnership, sources close to the companies said, adding that Comcast and Charter are currently primarily interested in having a reselling deal with Sprint, i.e. use the wireless carrier's infrastructure to sell mobile services under their respective brands. Both cable firms already have a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreement with Verizon Wireless but Sprint is ready to agree to better terms for Charter and Comcast, people with knowledge of the talks said. While Sprint boasts vast spectrum holdings, the company's infrastructure may receive an investment from both cable companies who would presumably be looking to improve its reliability and overall performance prior to starting their reselling efforts, sources claim. Both Charter and Comcast are also said to be considering an equity investment in Sprint, though it's currently unclear how much stock the two are considering purchasing.
While Sprint's parent SoftBank previously signaled it's open towards a merger, it remains to be seen whether the Japanese conglomerate would be ready to sell a controlling stake in Sprint to parties outside of the wireless industry. Recent reports indicate that isn't the case and Sprint's owners would still be free to pursue a consolidation with Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile even if they agree to a wireless partnership with Comcast and Charter. The Overland Park, Kansas-based wireless carrier is expected to address rumors about its general business activities on Tuesday after it holds a conference call with investors in the follow-up to its consolidated financial report for the second quarter of the year.