Altice USA, Sprint Strike ‘Full’ MVNO Deal

Altice USA is expanding into the mobile services arena via a strategic, multi-year “full” MVNO agreement with Sprint.

The agreement, announced Sunday, will pave the way for Altice USA to use Sprint’s network to provide mobile voice and data services to its customers throughout the nation.

Update: The agreement appears to be limited to Altice's U.S. footprint. “With respect to restrictions on Altice to sell within their footprint, they are restricted to sell within their footprint, but we are very happy if they are expanding their footprint and we would be expanding their ability to sell in any new footprint that they would be expanding to,” Sprint CFO Tarek Robbiati said Monday during a call with reporters, according to FierceCable.  

Under that full MVNO model, Altice USA will “have full control over the Altice USA mobile features, functionality and customer experience.”

In exchange, Sprint will leverage Altice USA’s network – covering the Suddenlink and Optimum (former Cablevision Systems) cable footprints – to support the mobile carrier’s “network densification efforts.”

Notably, Altice USA is moving ahead with a plan to upgrade the bulk of its network to fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) in the coming years. Altice USA also operates a WiFi network (with the majority of it based in the Optimum footprint) composed of a mix of metro hotspots and hotspots in customer gateways. 

RELATED: Altice USA to Skip DOCSIS 3.1, Roll Out All-Fiber Network

The MVNO deal with Altice USA also comes the day after Sprint and T-Mobile officially scrapped merger talks. The Wall Street Journal reported that Softbank, Sprint’s parent company, will instead increase its stake Sprint from 80% to about 85% by purchasing shares on the open market.

Comcast has already launched a mobile service, called Xfinity Mobile, that relies on its MVNO agreement with Verizon Communications and has already generated more than 250,000 customer lines for Comcast’s new service. Charter Communications has plans to roll out a mobile service next year using the MVNO agreement it inherited from Charter’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Comcast has also held talks with Sprint about improving a separate MVNO agreement that Comcast has with Sprint that was signed about a decade ago.

Prior to getting bought by Altice, Cablevision offered a WiFi-only service called Freewheel that debuted in early 2015. Altice shut down Freewheel about a year ago, several months after sales of the WiFi-only offering were halted.

RELATED: Farewell, Freewheel

“We are incredibly excited to work with Altice USA on this innovative win-win solution that benefits both of our companies,” said Sprint president and CEO Marcelo Claure, in a statement. “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 is an ideal strategic partner for Altice USA given our shared vision around converged customer experiences,” added Altice USA Chairman & CEO Dexter Goei. “Altice is a convergent leader with more than 26 million mobile customers in countries including France, Portugal, Israel, and the Dominican Republic, and we are excited to bring our global expertise to the U.S. to enhance and strengthen our offerings. 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.”