Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has never hidden the carrier's willingness to share its network, generally in return for access to additional spectrum and cash. As well as the reported deal with LightSquared, which could be worth up to $20 billion over 15 years, Sprint has said previously that it is talking to Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) -- its WiMax partner -- about network sharing. (See Sprint Gives Clearwire $1B Boost.)
These mobile operators, however, may not be the limit of Sprint's scope for opening up its network. In a research report issued Monday morning, Michael Nelson, analyst at Mizuho Securities USA Inc. , writes that Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) is a another potential network-sharing partner for Sprint. The satellite TV provider grabbed a chunk of U.S. spectrum in March when it purchased bankrupt DBSD North America for $1.4 billion.
Kelly Williams, VP of wireless product operations at Cox Communications Inc. , meanwhile, mentioned spectrum sharing as a potential route to 4G last week in conversation with Light Reading. The cable company is already a 3G CDMA partner with Sprint. (See Cox: We're Not Selling Our Spectrum.)
Sprint can consider these kind of deals because it is considering updating its network with multi-radio base stations that can potentially support multiple 3G and 4G technologies over several wireless frequencies. Sprint says it will announce more about its "Network Vision" plans this summer. (See Sprint CEO: More LTE Info Coming This Summer.)
Why this matters Sprint is the only one of the big three U.S. carriers that has -- officially at least -- opened up to the idea of network sharing. "Over my dead body," said Verizon CTO Tony Melone at the CTIA Show this year, and AT&T has publicly said much the same of the concept. Ma Bell has been rumored to be speaking to LightSquared on the quiet, however. (See CTIA 2011: Sparks Fly Over Spectrum Sharing and AT&T & LightSquared? Really?)
For more Read up on Sprint's big love for network sharing:
- LightSquared Reportedly Seals Sprint Deal
- Sprint/LightSquared Deal Expected Soon
- Sprint's Hesse on LightSquared & Clearwire
- Sprint's 4G Options in Flux
- LightSquared Needs Sprint in its Race to 4G
- What is Sprint Playing at With 4G?