SoftBank's Son hints at further price cuts from Sprint

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son indicated that Sprint (NYSE:S) could cut service pricing in the future as SoftBank seeks to revitalize Sprint and make it more competitive in the United States now that its acquisition of the carrier is official.

"We will be aggressive in technology, price packages, services on every front," Son told the New York Times. "At the same time, we will improve the network to be the world's best," he said.

Under Son's direction, SoftBank has emerged as a powerful competitor in Japan, and Son is hoping to bring that same dynamic to the U.S. market through Sprint.

Son's comments also follow Sprint's announcement last week that it will offer unlimited voice, texting and data for the life of a subscriber's phone line (though Sprint didn't guarantee its service pricing will remain the same).

However, Sprint's promise of unlimited services for life didn't generate much enthusiasm for analysts keen to see SoftBank's influence on Sprint. "This is not the 'magic behind the black curtain' moment that many were waiting for with SoftBank," Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer M. Fritzsche wrote in a research note last week.

Son has said SoftBank will invest $16 billion in Sprint over the next two years, and investments will slow to around $6 billion a year after that. In an interview earlier this month with Japanese news service Nikkei, Son said that SoftBank wants to make Sprint a more serious challenger to AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), which each have nearly twice as many customers as Sprint.

Son said most of the $16 billion will be spent on base stations for Sprint's LTE network. It's unclear how much of that investment will affect Sprint's current Network Vision network modernization plan, which Sprint expects to have largely completed by the first quarter of 2014.

SoftBank is also adding base stations to its network in Japan, and Son believes that the two companies will save money by joining forces on network infrastructure and smartphone purchases.

For more:
- see this NYT article

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