Sprint teaming with Cablevision could portend larger wireless relationship

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) will be working with Cablevision's small-business division to offer discounted wireless services to businesses with up to 100 employees.

Sprint is joining Cablevision's Optimum Business Benefits, a customer-loyalty program that includes participants such as FedEx for shipping and ADP for discounted payroll services. The deal allows qualified Cablevision business customers to apply for up to a 15-percent discount on Sprint wireless service and rebates on mobile devices.

What's more interesting is that the deal could be the beginning of a broader relationship. Cablevision has been talking up a residential offering called Optimum Mobile that would support devices that can operate on both mobile networks and Cablevision's vast Wi-Fi network.

In recent filings with the FCC, Cablevision indicated that it has considered T-Mobile USA regarding a possible wholesale partnership. Cablevision made the disclosure in a filing with the FCC arguing against AT&T's (NYSE:T) proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile, noting the transaction would deprive Cablevision of T-Mobile as its best potential cellular network partner.

"Cablevision has been actively exploring expanding its mobile Wi-Fi service to incorporate traditional cellular broadband service as a canopy to complement its existing Wi-Fi service," Cablevision wrote in a recent FCC filing. "Cablevision envisions offering a complete package of mobility services that would employ Wi-Fi and cellular broadband interchangeably and seamlessly."

Cablevision said T-Mobile would make the best partner for such an effort. The company said T-Mobile would be a better partner than Sprint Nextel due to T-Mobile's GSM-based network, which Cablevision said has a broader international reach than CDMA. Sprint serves as wholesale network provider to Cox Communications and others.

For more:
- see this FierceCable article
- see this release
- see this Light Reading Cable article

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