SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said his company's experience deploying TD-LTE in Japan will give it a clear advantage over Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH), which is competing with SoftBank to take control of Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S). Sprint expects to integrate TD-LTE into its network via its pending acquisition of Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR), which is building a TD-LTE network.
In continuing the war of words with Dish, Son used a company handset launch event in Tokyo to underscore SoftBank's experience in mobile--and Dish's relative lack of the same. Son noted that both SoftBank and Clearwire use 2.5 GHz spectrum for TD-LTE. He said "SoftBank 4G" TD-LTE service is "the first time in the world that this transmission method has been employed for commercial use, and we're already using it on a large scale," according to The Verge.
Clearwire CEO Erik Prusch recently said the company remains on track to have 2,000 TD-LTE sites on air by the end of June and 5,000 TD-LTE sites on air by the end of December. Sprint intends to use those cell sites as an LTE offload network--Sprint has said, assuming the Clearwire deal closes by mid-year, Sprint can begin launching devices in the late third quarter that take advantage of Clearwire's TD-LTE network.
Sprint's deal with Clearwire is contingent on the SoftBank deal closing, and the companies expect the deals to close by July 1. Clearwire shareholders will vote on the Sprint deal May 21 and Sprint shareholders will vote on the SoftBank deal June 12.
"They have never been in mobile before and that will be their biggest hurdle," Son said of Dish, according to Reuters. He added: "The difference here is that SoftBank has the network architecture, that SoftBank has the additional knowhow to bring to Sprint as the sole commercial provider of TD-LTE."
Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has said a combined Dish and Sprint will be able to deliver video and high-speed broadband to consumers both at home and on mobile devices in a way no other company can. He also said last week that Dish's deal would be better for the United States.
"We're offering a higher price. That's just math," Ergen said in an interview with USA Today, which essentially was a response to comments Son made to media and investors about the superiority of SoftBank's bid for Sprint. "We are an American company, and the modernization of Sprint's network will have to be done from the U.S. You have to climb the towers here, and you'll have to have U.S. employees who speak English. Operations command control will be in America. That's good for jobs. It doesn't mean that the other guys are bad. It's just that we have an advantage."
Son countered and said that "the workers who are climbing Sprint's base stations are Americans and we will not be sending anyone from Japan to do that at all."
Son said he will travel to the United States to convince Sprint shareholders to vote in favor of the deal. Son has been arguing that when Sprint shareholders consider regulatory delays, breakup fees, transaction costs and synergy effects, SoftBank's offer would end up worth 21 percent more than Dish's.
- see this CNET article
- see this The Verge article
- see this Reuters article
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