Sprint Plans Big Tower Upgrades With $5B+ Capex Increase

Sprint intends to “dramatically increase” its capex spending by $5 to $6 billion in fiscal 2018 “and possibly more to accelerate our network buildup,” said Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure at Wells Fargo’s Media & Telecom Conference this week, adding the carrier intends to upgrade with traditional macro towers. “I think our tower friends will be happy. We plan to upgrade every single tower we have” and expand coverage.

American Tower is eagerly anticipating Sprint’s planned tower upgrade. Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer Fritzsche said Claure noted the carrier “intends to touch every tower” for a network upgrade. “We’re ready!” AMT Investor Relations Director Igor Khislavsky responded later in the day.

Sprint is also excited about the partnership it signed with fiber company Altice this week and has access to their backhaul and cable infrastructure. Their backhaul consists of small cells, which Sprint plans to leverage.

Switching topics and saying he was “relieved” to finally be able to talk freely, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said Wednesday the reason Sprint-T-Mobile talks finally ended over the weekend came down to a question of being in charge. Masayoshi Son, SoftBank founder/CEO and Sprint Corporation Chair, “was not prepared to relinquish control of Sprint,” Claure told conference attendees on Wednesday.

Calling the planned combo “close to a merger of equals,” Claure said: “We explained to the Softbank board what it meant” to do the T-Mobile deal. When Son and the board said no, “We notified T-Mobile. They asked for a few days to give it one last shot.” It came down to Son’s “strong belief” he wanted “to give Sprint more opportunity to grow before selling and giving up control,” said Claure.  

November 9, 2017 

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