1:20 PM -- Sprint Nextel Corp. could make millions selling off spectrum that it can't use to fund the 4G updates tied to its "Network Vision" program.
On Wednesday, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski opened the way to allowing 4G services on the 2.3GHz Wireless Communications Services (WCS) band.
AT&T Inc. will be the main beneficiary if the FCC follows the chairman's lead, as it holds the most WCS licenses. (See FCC Chairman Says Yes to WCS for 4G and AT&T to Buy NextWave for 'Alternative' 4G .)
Sprint, however, is the other main holder of WCS spectrum. It has an average of 1MHz of WCS spectrum across the top 100 markets in the U.S. Not really enough to be useful when operators are looking at using 5x5MHz or 10x10MHz channels (or even more) for 4G services, but enough to be a bargaining chip for infrastructure money or a spectrum swap with Ma Bell.
UBS AG analyst John Hodulik has already suggested that Sprint could raise up to $130 million by selling WCS licenses to AT&T. This would be a nice little bump for its Network Vision 4G updates fund. (See Could Sprint Be Next to Sell WCS Spectrum? and Sprint Hunkers Down for Network Vision.)
I asked Sprint directly if it plans to sell its WCS holdings to AT&T or try and use them itself. "I'm afraid we can't comment on your specific question concerning Sprint's plans for its spectrum holdings," a Sprint spokesman replied in an email.
That doesn't mean such a deal couldn't be going on in the background, though. Comcast Corp. and Horizon PCS have already sold AT&T some WCS licenses. (See Why's AT&T Eyeing Its WCS Spectrum for LTE?)
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile