Light Reading

Sprint Joins Forces With Rural America on LTE

Sarah Thomas

SAN ANTONIO — CCA Global Expo — Through a partnership that's been years in the making, Sprint is joining forces with the Competitive Carriers Association and NetAmerica Alliance to accelerate 4G LTE deployments -- and device availability -- in rural America and to help Sprint fill in the gaps of its own LTE network.

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) and NetAmerica Alliance LLC , announced the partnership called Small Market Alliance for Rural Transformation (SMART) on Wednesday in San Antonio, making good on SoftBank Corp. CEO Masayoshi Son's promise to bring mobile broadband to underserved areas and fight the big two US carriers.

By teaming up, Sprint is allowing CCA and NetAmerica carrier members to roam on its LTE network through the CCA’s Data Services Hub, build on its 800 MHz and 1900 MHz spectrum for new entrants or those that want to expand, as well offer devices that include a band 12 chip to roam on the lower 700MHz spectrum, which many of them have access to. In return, Sprint gets to roam on the LTE networks they may build or already are building, plugging big rural holes in its own 4G network. (See NetAmerica, Ericsson Offer Rural 4G Alternative.)

"This is an enabler for rural carriers who wouldn’t otherwise build LTE, and it gives an experience for our customers who want LTE nationwide," Sprint CTO Stephen Bye told reporters in a briefing Wednesday.

Rural mobile operators have long said they can't effectively compete because of the expense of 4G build outs, the lack of desirable spectrum available to them, and little access to compatible devices big operators lock up in exclusive deals. With today's announcements, some of those dynamics should start to change. For one thing, both AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and now Sprint have committed to building devices with band 12 support in them. Sprint said its first devices will come to market in January of next year that will interoperate with the rural carriers' networks. (See AT&T Closes $1.9B Verizon Spectrum Buy.)

"We felt Sprint was the perfect partner," NetAmerica Chairman and CEO Roger Hutton said. "They have a need to move their LTE network into rural America, but they also have spectrum assets and scale that can be provided to rural carriers to create that ecosystem."

The program may sound similar to Verizon Wireless 's Rural America LTE program, but, as CCA President and CEO Steven Berry describes it, Sprint's program is a lot more generous. With Verizon's program, operators are required to use its spectrum, build to their specs, and have little flexibility or room to add their own capabilities. And, when Verizon updates its network, its rural partners are required to spend to be compliant, Berry said. (See Verizon LTE Plan Not a Rural Slam-Dunk and Signs of Momentum With Rural 4G.)

Berry continued:

    In ours, carriers can use their own spectrum, own assets, harmonize capabilities with a network perspective alignment, but they also get devices that will allow them to provide a nationwide experience. It's not necessarily the Sprint core. They can use their own core, join CCA's roaming hub, or directly connect to Sprint.

The group isn't announcing any participating carriers at launch, but they insist that interest is high. And, while the CCA's other large member, T-Mobile US Inc. , is not currently participating in this alliance, Berry strongly hinted it could soon be involved. The uncarrier is already a partner for GSM roaming and is "part of the discussions" on LTE roaming, especially now that they've purchased 700 MGHz spectrum from Verizon, giving them band 12 needs. (See T-Mobile: Channel-51 Interference a Non-Issue and T-Mobile Spends $2.4B on Verizon Spectrum .)

Softbank's Son is addressing the CCA Expo crowd Thursday morning, where he'll elaborate on the program. It is certainly groundbreaking for the rural community and might even lead some regulators to believe Sprint doesn't need to merge with T-Mobile to be truly competitive now that it can get nationwide coverage. Sprint isn't commenting on that line of logic, but such an announcement shows there is strength in numbers when it comes to taking on AT&T and Verizon Wireless. (See Big Fish in the CCA's Pond.)

"It's 100 versus two," Berry said. "One hundred-plus carriers trying to build the equivalent of a tier-one carrier with a larger footprint than the big two."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Blogger
3/27/2014 | 1:52:50 PM
Good deal
It'll be interesting to see how this places out and the business relationships in place to make it happen. It seems like a big deal to me and a much better deal for the rural providers than what Verizon was offering. 

I just keep coming back to, if Sprint is now 100+ carriers strong, why does it need T-Mobile? Doesn't this prove it can forge it alone??
From The Founder
Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
LRTV Custom TV
Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wagner’s Ring
How Might Open Source Fail?

11|24|15   |     |   (9) comments

Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
Between the CEOs
Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (1) comment

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
LRTV Documentaries
Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
SDN Management & Orchestration in the WAN

11|17|15   |   7.20   |   (0) comments

Carol Wilson and Packet Design CTO Cengiz Alaettinoglu discuss CSPs' SDN service delivery and assurance requirements. Learn about a modular approach to building automated control, orchestration and management functions for the WAN that are policy- and analytics-driven.
LRTV Custom TV
Flash Networks: Optimizing for Radio Spectral Efficiency

11|17|15   |   3:34   |   (0) comments

Today most optimization vendors only focus on optimizing voice or data. Ofer Gottfried, Flash Networks' CTO, shows how improving data throughput and maximizing spectral efficiency reduces capital and operating expenses while also providing a platform for user engagement.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Pay-TV User Experiences Millennial-Friendly

11|16|15   |   6:42   |   (0) comments

The unique challenge of reaching and engaging Millennials is driving pay-TV video experience transformation that can include higher quality UIs, viewing of multiple content streams at once and seamless transitions between handheld devices and the television.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Electric Power Summit 2015 – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

11|16|15   |   1:28   |   (0) comments

Huawei, together with Ethiopia's Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, hosted the Huawei Electric Power Summit 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The event gathered industry experts and senior executives of global electric power companies to discuss emerging industry trends including: improvements in new energy conversion efficiency, reduction of line losses ...
Allot MobileTrends Report H2/2015 reveals how daily online behavior can be used to discover smarter ways to profile customers and propose valuable, real-time offers to them.
Hot Topics
Samsung to Sell Wireless Networking Unit?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Sprint, Verizon Face Reorganization, Job Cuts
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/20/2015
Sprint to Get $1.2B From New Leasing Venture
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
How Might Open Source Fail?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/24/2015
Networking Shines in HP's Gloomy Final Earnings
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
December 15, 2015
Virtualizing Cable Services
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
Mobily CEO Ahmad Farroukh talks to Steve Saunders about the realities of being a mobile operator in Saudi Arabia.
Cats with Phones
Can't Find the Phone on Thanksgiving? Click Here
Check under the cat! (hint: bottom right)
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.