Two of Puerto Rico’s wireless carriers — Sprint and Open Mobile — quietly completed their previously announced joint venture agreement in mid-November, as both providers worked through recovery efforts post Hurricane María, this media outlet has confirmed.
The deal was finalized less than three weeks ago, when the two companies officially began operating as PRWirelessPR, LLC, offering postpaid, prepaid, Lifeline and business service through the Sprint, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile USA and Open Mobile brands.
The joint venture is the only carrier dedicated to and designed specifically to serve Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, company officials said.
Given the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria recently, the priority for the joint venture remains to restore wireless service to all customers in these markets, said Juan Saca, former CEO of Open Mobile, who has been named CEO of the joint venture to lead the company and this effort.
“With thanks to the Federal Communications Commission in the U.S. and the Puerto Rico Telecommunications Regulatory Board, I am pleased to announce that the joint venture has been finalized,” said Saca.
“We have already been coordinating restoration efforts since the storms hit, and with the camaraderie forged during this challenging time, along with the complimentary assets both companies bring to the table, we are now even stronger as a combined company,” Saca said.
“While the road ahead for the people of Puerto Rico and the USVI is long and difficult, it is also an opportunity for this new company to forge a path forward that is even more focused on and attuned to the needs of our customers throughout the islands.”
Over the weekend, the carriers confirmed that 82 percent of its cell sites have been restored and are in service. Re-establishing 100 percent of the network is tied to the restoration of electric power on the island.
In January this year, this media outlet broke the news about the joint venture plans the companies were formalizing, which were officially announced in February. In June, the carriers asked the FCC to approve the transaction.
The headquarters for the joint venture will be at Open Mobile’s headquarters in Guaynabo, where company employees have been moving into in recent weeks. Saca and his leadership team, including longtime Sprint General Manager Patricia Eaves, will make the decisions at the local level.
In the joint venture Sprint and Open Mobile have a 72 percent and a 28 percent of the economic interest respectively, and a 55 percent and a 45 percent of the voting interest in the joint venture, respectively. The Board of Directors for the joint venture has already been established and members are: Tarek Robbiati, Sprint’s chief financial officer; Jaime Jones, Sprint president for the East area; Claudio Hidalgo, Sprint regional president for Florida, Puerto Rico and the USVI; Brian Clark, managing partner at MC Partners; and Harry Hopper, partner at Columbia Capital.
All of the current Open Mobile and Sprint retail employees in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will transition to the joint venture, including Sprint employees supporting Boost Mobile.
“Over time and as the company restores service for customers, the joint venture will rebuild its network and operations to best leverage its spectrum advantage on the islands,” the carriers stated.
“Upon restoration, the joint venture plans to better serve customers in Puerto Rico and USVI with tailored products, services and rate plans, as well as provide sales and service in many convenient distribution points across both markets,” the providers further noted.
Customers currently with Sprint, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile or Open Mobile are not required to take any action on their accounts at this time, the carrier stated.