By Anjali Athavaley and Parikshit Mishra
(Reuters) – U.S. cable operator Altice USA will sell mobile service on wireless carrier Sprint Corp’s network under a new multi-year agreement announced on Sunday, becoming the latest firm to enter the wireless market in a bid to retain customers.
The companies announced the agreement a day after Sprint and T-Mobile US Inc ended merger talks.
Under the terms of the agreement, Altice, the fourth-largest U.S. cable operator, will use Sprint’s network to provide voice and data services in the United States. It gave no time line on when it will introduce such services.
The deal will allow Sprint to use Altice’s cable infrastructure to transmit cellular data and develop a next-generation network, or 5G.
Sprint and T-Mobile on Saturday called off merger talks to create a bigger U.S. wireless company to rival market leaders. That has left Sprint, the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier, to engineer a turnaround on its own.
Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, Sprint’s majority owner, said in a separate announcement on Sunday that it intended to increase its stake in Sprint but that it would keep ownership of outstanding common stock under 85 percent, a move that avoids triggering a tender offer for the remaining shares. SoftBank currently owns roughly 82 percent of Sprint.
U.S. cable companies have begun venturing into the wireless market as a way to bundle more services to reduce churn, or customer defections, at a time when more consumers are canceling cable subscriptions.
Comcast Corp started selling wireless service this year on Verizon Communications Inc’s network, and Charter Communications Inc plans to launch service next year.
(Reporting by Parikshit Mishra in Bengaluru and Anjali Athavaley in New York; Editing by Paul Simao and Peter Cooney)