Altice USA, the fourth-biggest U.S. cable operator, will harness Sprint’s network to offer customers wireless service through a new strategic MVNO agreement.
Through the deal Sprint will also ramp up network densification efforts by leveraging Altice’s broadband infrastructure, according to a statement. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Altice is the latest U.S. cable operator to try its hand at the wireless business. Both Comcast and Charter Communications have struck MVNO agreements with Verizon. Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile wireless service debuted earlier this year and has about 200,000 customers so far, while Charter is slated to launch its own wireless service utilizing Verizon’s network in the second quarter of 2018.
Cable operators may see bundling mobile service with cable and internet offerings as a way to reduce customer churn as they continue to lose pay-TV subscribers to cheaper alternatives such as over-the-top services.
“As content and connectivity continue to converge, we believe this approach will be a model for future strategic arrangements across multiple industries including cable, tech and others,” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a statement.
The announcement didn’t indicate when Altice would roll out wireless service to its more than 4.9 million customers. However in a Monday press call, Sprint CFO Tarek Robbiati said the carrier will leverage Altice’s service footprint across 21 states to deploy “thousands of small cells.”
“The infrastructure swap is what makes this deal the first of its kind,” he added. “It’s really important that we invest in our network but also that that investment is really geared towared densifying our footprint.”
This isn’t Altice’s first foray into wireless though, as it’s a subsidiary of Altice NV, which has more than 26 million mobile customers in countries including France, Portugal, and the Dominican Republic.
“Working together we will be able to capitalize on Sprint’s vast mobile network, which fits well alongside Altice USA’s deep WiFi network, and leverage Altice’s global mobile experience to deliver greater value, more benefits and seamless connectivity for our U.S. customers,” Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei noted.