Sprint, the nation's fourth largest wireless carrier, has announced that it has reached an agreement for a mutual partnership on wireless and spectrum availability with Altice USA, one of the largest cable and telephony service providers in the United States. Per the agreement, Altice will get to use Sprint's wireless network as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), while Sprint will also benefit from its partner's own offerings. The benefit here is that Sprint will have more spectrum to use in its ongoing 5G preparations and buildout, while Altice, who already offers a wide variety of home and business services, will finally be able to become a full-service provider by adding wireless solutions to its repertoire.
Altice's footprint includes large swaths of the nation, where the company holds significant amounts of spectrum that it uses to serve somewhere around five million customers nationwide. Added to Sprint's massive amount of existing spectrum, especially in the lower frequency range, Altice's formidable holdings mean that Sprint will have a far easier time densifying its existing network and rolling out multiple solutions for 5G. Altice, meanwhile, will benefit from this network expansion in that its customers will be using Sprint's network; any improvements that Sprint makes with Altice spectrum can be used by Altice customers as part of the MVNO agreement. In this way, the two companies mutually benefit. Monetary details of the deal were not announced, but it's quite likely that no cash exchanged hands here; an even trade of spectrum subletting for MVNO rights is presumably a good strategic fit for Sprint right now.
Altice, meanwhile, will be following in the footsteps of its international brethren. The United States is one of the few markets in which Altice operates where it does not already offer wireless services. The other market is Israel, where the company is present as Hot, a communications specialist with a good section of the nation's cable market to its name. In the U.S., the deal will not only establish Altice as a wireless carrier but could have an effect on its reportedly proposed buyout of Charter Communications. Altice is currently looking at offering around $185 billion in value for Charter, but the latter may not be willing to agree to the deal unless it's offered considerable ongoing value beyond the initial payout, and involvement with Sprint may be just what Altice needs to sweeten the deal. The timing of the announcement comes less than two days after Sprint officially exited its merger negotiations with T-Mobile and is presumably aimed at offsetting some negative effects on its stock that the development will likely have once trading starts later today.