Sprint playing crucial role in Softbank's 30-year grand plan

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Softbank's planned $20.1 billion investment in Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) caught many observers by surprise. But the investment is part of a broader plan to expand the Softbank name worldwide and provide a lasting legacy that extends far beyond Softbank's current circle of influence. Further, Softbank sees Sprint as a brother in arms that is battling an overly powerful mobile duopoly, much as Softbank has had to do for years in Japan. The rise of Softbank has been driven by its visionary founder Masayoshi Son, who has repeatedly showed a penchant for fearless investing in companies that can contribute to his grand scheme of a broadband-connected world. FierceBroadbandWireless Editor Tammy Parker recently traveled to Japan to get a glimpse at Softbank's strategy firsthand. Special report