Comcast and Charter have agreed to work together to explore ways to get into the wireless market, but it sounds like they’re casting around for a third musketeer to join their new venture. And that final member of the trio might be Sprint.
According to sources cited by The Wall Street Journal, Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son has entered into a two-month, exclusive agreement for discussions about a wireless service, which means any potential merger talks with T-Mobile are on hold.
What would such a partnership look like? Charter and Comcast could invest in bolstering Sprint’s network, and get favorable terms to offer wireless service using its network in return, sources suggested, which might involve the cable companies also getting an equity stake in Sprint.
There’s also the possibility that Comcast and Charter could buy Sprint together, some people said, but that sounds a lot less likely.
And even if Charter and Comcast get into bed with Sprint with a reseller agreement, the carrier wouldn’t necessarily be kept from merging with T-Mobile, sources indicated. That wedding is still a definite possibility, the insiders noted.
Last month, Comcast and Charter announced that they’d agreed “to explore operational efficiencies to speed entry into the wireless market.” The plan now would be to have them share the burden of the work to create WiFi heavy new mobile services together, and make them cross-compatible and usable on each other’s networks.
Both companies already have separate deals with Verizon — called mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, agreements — to be able to use its LTE network and cellular infrastructure for wireless services. Any deal with Sprint would likely have more favorable terms for Comcast and Charter, notes the WSJ.