OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), May 02, 2016 – Sprint (NYSE:S) today announced it has entered into an agreement with i-wireless, LLC to strengthen its position as a leader in the wireless Lifeline services industry. The partnership will merge Sprint’s Assurance Wireless and i-wireless’ Access Wireless into one entity. The entity will operate under the name i-wireless and will be led by i-wireless Founder and CEO Paul McAleese. Sprint will own 70 percent of the business, with i-wireless owning the remaining 30 percent.
“Sprint has enjoyed a great relationship with i-wireless for many years,” said Dow Draper, president of prepaid for Sprint. “We’re excited to move forward with this strategic partnership, which will result in efficiencies for both companies, including financial synergies, such as acquisition costs, device purchasing scale and working capital flexibility.”
The partnership will leverage the expertise of two industry leaders, and will combine Sprint’s strong position as a network provider with i-wireless’ national distribution strength. i-wireless has a unique competitive advantage in its ability to accurately and efficiently qualify new customers for Lifeline services through a relationship with its strategic investor, The Kroger Co. Kroger is one of the nation’s largest grocery chains. i-wireless will continue to operate on the Sprint network, which delivers consistent reliability, capacity and speed that customers can count on.
“This alliance will create a vibrant competitor ready to embrace a modernized Lifeline program,” said Paul McAleese, i-wireless CEO. “As the category transitions to broadband, we’re enthusiastic about the potential to help customers more fully participate in today’s digital economy by making access to employment, education and healthcare services more affordable to low-income consumers.”
Assurance Wireless and Access Wireless are participants in the Lifeline Assistance Program supported by the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is designed to ensure that quality telecommunications services are available to low-income consumers at affordable rates. Enrollment in this government benefit program is available to consumers who meet federal or state-specific eligibility criteria.
The transaction is subject to review by the Federal Communications Commission and other regulatory approvals.