June 26 - Softbank's Sprint buyout deal brings a new heavyweight into the U.S. telecom business- ready with a plan to try to get consumers to hang up on its rivals. Bobbi Rebell reports.
U.S. consumers- Softbank wants your number. One step closer to buying out Sprint- the Japanese giant is expected to do everything it can to grab consumers away from rivals Verizon and AT&T. First- fix what is broken. Softbank will invest heavily to upgrade Sprint's LTE - or Long Term Evolution network- also known as 4G. It will also likely integrat e wireless internet company Clearwire. Sprint owns 50% - and has an unrivaled bid for the rest- now that Dish has withdrawn its offer. All that could take some time- but will at the very least even the playing field. Second - don't fix what isn't broken- Sprint customers will probably keep their unlimited data plans: Macquarie Capital's Kevin Smithen: SOUNDBITE: KEVIN SMITHEN, ANALYST, MACQUARIE CAPITAL (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I think that LTE- unlimited LTE will actually be a differentiator as - versus the consumption based, usage based pricing that Verizon and AT&T offer." And third- bring in new strategies- that will get consumers' attention: SOUNDBITE: KEVIN SMITHEN, ANALYST, MACQUARIE CAPITAL (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The integration of content, mobile commerce and telecom service. In the U.S., it's been primarily about mobile broadband access today- getting access to the Internet. I think that Softbank is going to try to merge some of that content and mobile commerce in with the access. Try to create a differentiated product offering than what T and Verizon are doing today." Softbank has also been able to leverage partnerships in Japan- such as its deal with Yahoo Japan- and Smithen thinks they will focus on Internet partnerships in the U.S. as well.