Sprint to add 5,000 jobs in U.S. as part of SoftBank commitment

Sprint said it will add 5,000 positions in the U.S. as part of parent company SoftBank’s effort to create 50,000 American jobs.

Sprint said it will add 5,000 positions in the U.S. as part of parent company SoftBank’s effort to create 50,000 American jobs.

The nation’s fourth-largest operator said it “will begin discussions immediately with its business partners, states and cities” to determine where the jobs will be created. The move will include customer care and sales positions, although the company didn’t elaborate beyond that, and the jobs will be filled by the end of the first quarter of 2018.

President-elect Donald Trump announced earlier this month that SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son had committed to invest $50 billion in the U.S. to create 50,000 jobs. Trump then took to Twitter to claim that Son “would never do this” if Trump had not been elected president, although those plans predated the election.

Trump took credit for Sprint’s decision as well.

“I was just called by the head people at Sprint, and they are going to be bringing 5,000 jobs back to the United States,” Mr. Trump told reporters Wednesday at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Reuters reported. “They have taken them from other countries. They are bringing them back to the United States.”

Trump also said an additional 3,000 will be created by OneWeb. That startup recently closed a $1.2 billion fundraising round with SoftBank as the lead investor. OneWeb hopes to manage a network of more than 600 satellites in 18 polar orbit planes at 750 miles above the earth, lower than most other satellites.

The move to onshore jobs would be something of a reversal for Sprint, which has moved aggressively to reduce its payroll–largely by trimming or offshoring call center positions–over the last two years as part of a larger effort to cut costs and regain financial stability. A Sprint spokeswoman told The New York Times that the new positions would be “a combination of newly created jobs and bringing some existing jobs back to the U.S.”

Sprint spokesman Dave Tovar told FierceWireless he didn't know how many customer care positions the carrier has in the U.S. compared to offshore, adding that "it's premature to speculate on specifics" of the announcement. 

Sprint will finance the new positions, but Son’s commitment may be an effort to curry favor with the incoming administration at a critical time. SoftBank overtly pursued T-Mobile a few years ago in the hopes of merging the two U.S. carriers, creating a market with three major players of roughly the same size. That effort was stymied when federal regulators indicated they were opposed to major consolidation in the market.

Trump’s election victory has once again stoked talk of a tie-up between Sprint and T-Mobile, however. Shares of both carriers have climbed in recent weeks due in part to speculation that a Trump administration would be more welcome of a merger than Obama’s administration has been.