& cplSiteName &

Sprint Joins Forces With Rural America on LTE

Sarah Thomas
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        ADD A COMMENT
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
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??
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading is spending much of this year digging into the details of how automation technology will impact the comms market, but let's take a moment to also look at how automation is set to overturn the current world order by the middle of the century.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue – London
November 10, 2017, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
November 16, 2017, ExCel Centre, London
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
The Revolution Will Be Automated
Steve Saunders, CEO and founder, Light Reading, 10/10/2017
The Big Cable DAA Update
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/11/2017
Is US Lurching Back to Monopoly Status?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 10/16/2017
Telecom Italia Covers 73% of Italy With NB-IoT
Iain Morris, News Editor, 10/13/2017
DT: Brutal Automation Is Only Way to Succeed
Iain Morris, News Editor, 10/10/2017
Animals with Phones
Hunt & Peck Click Here
Giving new meaning to hunt-and-peck typing!
Latest Comment
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed