Blog Post

Sprint: It’s Becoming the “Other Mobile Network”

Sprint CEO says no to the AT&T and T-Mo merger.

Cox Communications says it plans to stop building out its wireless network according to Fierce Wireless, which published a story this afternoon citing Cox spokesman David Deliman who said the cable company will “soon” decommission its 3G network. The story noted that Cox, a cable provider, would outsource the wireless operations to Sprint (s s).

So what happens to Cox’s AWS spectrum it is using to deploy its wireless network? Given that AT&T is planing to buy T-Mobile in part because it wants to deploy its 4G LTE network in that spectrum band, I imagine Cox determined that it might better off selling some airwaves and partnering up with Sprint.

This would give Sprint yet another customer to provide 3G access for, with others being Clearwire (s clwr) and Comcast (s cmcsa). Even LightSquared, the promised satellite network, could end up sharing resources and wireless towers with Sprint. This puts Sprint in a contradictory position. There are multiple companies relying on it to provide 3G coverage for their 4G or even 3G networks, while its CEO is testifying before the Senate that it will likely cease to exist if AT&T (s t) succeeds in buying T-Mobile, the nation’s fourth largest carrier. The AT&T buy would cement AT&T and Verizon (s vz) as the largest mobile operators and leave Sprint with a mere 18 percent of the nation’s subscribers.

However, as the only viable alternative to the top two players, Sprint could see its fortunes rise as other companies trying to force their way into the mobile broadband game. Plus, as it announces its 4G plans (and yes, it’s going to have to move to LTE especially since Clearwire is planning its move to LTE) it may become a key roaming partner for other operators. Sprint did once tell me it wanted to become a true wholesaler back when it was optimistic about its partnership with Clearwire, so maybe it’s dreams may finally come true as consolidation eats away at competition in the industry.

5 Responses to “Sprint: It’s Becoming the “Other Mobile Network””

  1. Brett

    I used to love Sprint, but now I do not see how they could survive against VZ and ATT. Over the last few months they have raised their rates by $10, decreased member benefits, and decreased coverage. Yesterday I called to ask why in my own house where I used to receive 5/6 bars I now receive only 1. They asked for my address and then without any explanation told me they would release me from my contract.

    Sprint had a lot going for them to set them apart from other companies. Now I don’t see how they can survive if they offer less coverage as other carriers, for a similar price, with less phone choices. Further, if they cannot even provide proper 3g/voice coverage for their own customers how can they supply it for other companies?

  2. Ditch 3G and go with 4G, their footprint isn’t that big so they can do it without causing too much of an issue.

    I’d speak directly to Ericsson instead of a mobile carrier if I were Cox.

  3. Doesn’t it just make sense for the cable industry to stop trying to go their own way with wireless and just buy Sprint. Dan Hesse himself said AT&T-Mobile makes them an acquisition target. The cable industry is sitting on a lot of spectrum. Why not combine it with Sprint and become a true third national carrier?

  4. None of those wanna be wireless players have any wireless customers and with the exception of LightSquared who really doesn’t exist yet (and may never exist) they all want to charge more than Sprint for Sprint’s services.

    Sprint desperately needs a sugar daddy who can finance their LTE build out. Clear’s swiss cheese approach isn’t going to cut it.

    That would have been T-Mobile if they reached agreement on T-Mobile’s value before Ma Bell reared its ugly head.