Network Polygamy Ahead for Sprint?

The network-sharing deal that Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) is said to have signed with LightSquared may just be the first of several for the third-ranked U.S. carrier.

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:

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

DavidGP 12/5/2012 | 5:01:30 PM
re: Network Polygamy Ahead for Sprint?

Funny, I roam for free from Sprint to Verizon, voice and data.  What does this do that I did not have before?  Advertising, Sprint Stores?  Whoopee.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:01:30 PM
re: Network Polygamy Ahead for Sprint?

Not just roaming, network sharing, it gives Sprint more bandwidth to deploy a 4G network. All the major players are trying to build the biggest footprint they can and no one is saying if they have signed a 4G roaming deal yet.

bergea 12/5/2012 | 5:01:25 PM
re: Network Polygamy Ahead for Sprint?

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse made it clear that he would not be announcing a deal signed with LightSquared at the Sprint Industry Analyst Conference being held at their Overland Park headquarters I attended today.  Even though Philip Falcone disclosed this 15-year agreement in a letter to his investors, Dan was not ready to make this announcement without being able detail Sprint’s plans for deploying LTE services using its own spectrum and the future of Clearwire 4G on the new Sprint Network Vision platform.  Look for the Sprint announcement closer to when it reports its Q2 Earnings results.    

Senior Sprint executives did make a clear distinction what has been called “network-sharing” versus Sprint’s interest in “spectrum hosting”.  Sprint is prepared to host spectrum controlled by third parties on its new new multi-modal wireless network platform, but makes it clear that Sprint will control this network and is prepared to share its network resources in return for access to additional spectrum and capital to invest in this infrastructure.

Sprint is also negotiating with Clearwire -- its WiMax partner – not about network sharing, but really about spectrum hosting.   Cox and Dish Network are other potential spectrum hosting partners that may want to host their spectrum use the new Sprint network rather than build out and operate their own networks. This new wholesale strategy is not about “unbundling Sprint’s network”, but gaining access to additional spectrum controlled by third parties and attracting their investment capital to host their services on Sprint’s network. 

alandal 12/5/2012 | 5:01:19 PM
re: Network Polygamy Ahead for Sprint?

So it did sound like Sprint is more interested in using (leasing) the spectrum that LightSquared has to run their own LTE networks.


But it didn't sound anything that LightSquared wanted to do since it totally goes against their business model.


What's going on?

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:01:18 PM
re: Network Polygamy Ahead for Sprint?



Going to be interesting isn't it? If LightSquared is piggy-backing on the Sprint network is that going to limit the number of wholesale partners L2 can attract?


We really don't know yet...

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:01:18 PM
re: Network Polygamy Ahead for Sprint?

For instance, I don't think Best Buy will mind but you have to wonder if, say, MetroPCS would want to be on Sprint network. Nonetheless, I don't think L2 has much choice...

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