Light Reading
A new program with the CCA and NetAmerica Alliance will give Sprint a nationwide LTE footprint and rural providers a ready-made way to LTE with supported handsets.

Sprint Joins Forces With Rural America on LTE

Sarah Reedy
3/26/2014
50%
50%

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
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
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??
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Building the Case for NFV

12|19|14   |   02:14   |   (0) comments


At the 2020 Vision Executive Summit, James Feger, VP, Network Strategy & Development at CenturyLink, talks about how the US operator is approaching virtual network functions from an operational and business case perspective.
LRTV Interviews
Liberty Global Sees Business Goldmine

12|18|14   |     |   (0) comments


Steen Sorensen, VP of business services for Liberty Global, explains where the giant international MSO sees growth potential.
LRTV Documentaries
EE: The Road to 5G

12|16|14   |   16:02   |   (1) comment


Andy Sutton, the principal network architect at UK mobile operator EE, explains how his company is using Wembley stadium as a wireless test bed and how that's helping EE to plan the evolution to 5G.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Highlights of Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014

12|16|14   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei hosted its inaugural NFV Open Cloud Forum during the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Forum brought together technology thought leaders, senior executives and telecom professionals from global carriers, industry associations, as well as other partner companies in the ecosystem, to exchange views on and collectively explore how ...
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing Operators' Digital Vision

12|16|14   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Leveraging technology is fundamental to digital transformation but understanding customers and serving them really well is at the heart of digital businesses. TM Forum lists the following as the strategic pillars of the digital business: business agility and rapid innovation, operational agility and effectiveness, IT and data centricity, plus customer centricity. ...
LRTV Documentaries
US Cellular Injects Analytics Into LTE

12|16|14   |   2:57   |   (1) comment


US Cellular's Mario Vela explains how the operator uses analytics for network planning and what comes next as the carrier looks to eke more value out of its metrics.
LRTV Interviews
How Cox Biz Plans to Keep Growing

12|15|14   |     |   (2) comments


Steve Rowley, SVP of Cox Business, details how the third-biggest US MSO intends to boost its revenues to $2 billion and beyond over the rest of the decade
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Bill Zhang, Director of SoftCOM Product Management, Huawei

12|15|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Bill Zhang elaborated on Huawei's open philosophy in NFV solution development and network architecture design at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Event Highlights: Huawei at SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014

12|15|14   |   3:43   |   (0) comments


Huawei joined the 2014 SDN & OpenFlow Congress as one of the key sponsors and contributors. At the event, Huawei reinforced the openness and flexibility of its network infrastructure strategies, and provided updates on its SDN and NVF innovations. Through participations at the exhibitions, forums and speeches, Huawei encouraged the industry to "think bigger and ...
LRTV Interviews
How Cable Biz Services Hit $10B Mark

12|12|14   |     |   (1) comment


Cable operators reached $10 billion in annual business services revenues by delving deeper into their vertical markets and expanding beyond the smallest firms.
LRTV Documentaries
Mediacom Aims to Test Connected Tractors

12|11|14   |   05:07   |   (3) comments


Cable business service provider is taking its services to the 'agribusiness' sector in partnership with farm equipment specialist John Deere and is getting involved in Gigabit Cities developments.
LRTV Interviews
TWC Business Looks Beyond $3B

12|10|14   |     |   (0) comments


TWC Business Services chief Phil Meeks explains how his unit has reached $3 billion in annual revenues and what its plans are for next year.
Upcoming Live Events
February 10, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Hot Topics
T-Mobile, BlackBerry Flirt With Reuniting
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/17/2014
1-Gig: Coming to a Small Town Near You
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 12/17/2014
Comcast Launches 4K Streaming Service
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 12/18/2014
US Carriers, You're Going to Cuba!
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 12/18/2014
T-Mobile Lights Up 27 Wideband LTE Cities
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/15/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive