Maravedis Analyst Briefs
Softbank-Sprint Expose Industry Choices
The pace of network evolution pivots around wireless broadband ICT has accelerated in a way that opens up new technology methods and levels of business. They are far from being alone, however, Softbank gets that better than anyone in our opinion.
The public understanding of Clearwire as a company and how its surrounding environment is evolving to impact this 4G pure play is a good way to understand among the most dynamic aspects of wireless industry development that is increasingly centered around broadband spectrum as well as markershare, coverage and new devices and services. The field is in a period of change that is as much impacted by the pace of innovation and growth in demand as it is by such aspects as the features on new SmartPhones. The new age of change in ICT is based on communication as a fundamentall differentiation in how networks, devices, programs, and social interactions and organizations are formed. When networks are conceived as delivering personal communications rather than just the mechanics of achieving higher efficeincy or a metered level of Quality of Service, QoS, then we start thinking differently about the role the operator play as the gatekeeper to access and personal and location based data interface that is critical to the new economy.
There was much speculation among analysts and the media that Softbank or Sprint would acquire Clearwire. Our thinking was that the speculation that would prove wrong has been confirmed by Sprint taking the step to the small amount of stock needed to take controlling interest in the company. Meanwhile, Softbank's CEO, Son, has said that he would not have made the move to acquire Sprint if he didn't see a large untapped opportunity centered around broadband, video, delivery of picture frame images, etc. The history of Softbank's growth in the Japanese market is synonymous with innovation in development of networks, SmartPhone devices and tailoring of products and marketing to individuals.
The position of Sprint and Softbank to gain only enough ownership to express control over the deployment and use of the TD-LTE network puts Clearwire more squarely under the thumbs of the new owners who better understand how to build networks and markets. Central to that will be building better RAN network architecture that make use of a fuller extent of the technology, including small cells.
The recent Bloomberg article based on the NY interview with Hesse and Son highlighted key aspects of what will unfold: Softbank capitalized on deployment of Wi-Fi and WiMAX to deliver higher capacity for 3G and 4G applications than competitors could match at the time. The 'massively microcell' deployment of LTE using 2.6GHz intends to keep the company a step ahead of competition in bandwidth while the notorious innovations in marketing will remain focused on giving customers more tailored service that is pitched to each category of use more effectively.
China is pushing rapidly into fulfilling the national priority of making WBB available to a large part of their 1.3 billion people