Sprint Outsources Network Management to Ericsson

Sprint and Ericsson today announced a pact in which Ericsson will take on 6,000 Sprint employees in a seven-year services contract. The outsourcing contract is worth between $4.5 billion and $5 billion, reports Market Watch.

Ericsson will assume responsibility for the day-to-day services, provisioning and maintenance for the Sprint-owned CDMA, iDEN and wireline networks. Sprint will retain full ownership and control of its network assets. No force reductions are currently contemplated as a result of this agreement, the companies said.

According to Wikipedia, Ericsson has officially announced more than 100 contracts for managed services with operators worldwide since 2002. In all current managed services contracts, excluding hosting, Ericsson is managing networks that together serve more than 225 million subscribers worldwide. Sprint Nextel, based in Overland Park, Kansas, employs some 56,000 people (2008).

According to reports, Ericsson will take over Sprint’s network management on September 21st. The company already has moved their offices to the Kansas City operations center.

Ericsson is currently focusing on Long Term Evolution technology, and not CDMA. Ericsson and TeliaSonera unveiled the world’s first commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) site in Stockholm, this May. Whether that implies Ericsson will manage a LTE conversion for Sprint is unknown. Ericsson has long been an LTE backer. WiMAX — not so much.

Last year, Sprint sold some 3,080 of its cell towers to TowerCo for an estimated $670 million in cash. On Monday, Sprint said it lost $594 million in its latest quarter. Net operating revenues were $8.2 billion, down 12% from $9.3 billion a year ago.

The company saw its subscriber base continued to decline, ending the quarter with 49.1 million customers – compared to 49.3 million at the end of 2008. This includes 35.4 million post-paid subscribers (25.3 million on CDMA, 8.9 million on iDEN, and 1.2 million Power Source users who utilize both networks), 4.3 million prepaid subscribers (3.5 million on iDEN and 800,000 on CDMA) and 9.4 million wholesale and affiliate subscribers, all of whom utilize the CDMA network.

Ericsson’s long-awaited universal base station is out of the lab and into the equipment closet. Verizon Wireless will be among the first to receive the new multi-standard platform, reports Telephony, deploying it in its forthcoming long-term evolution (LTE) network.

Ericsson executives say the kit is already deployed in an existing operator’s high-speed packet access (HSPA) deployment, though they did not reveal whose. Unveiled at Mobile World Congress in 2008, the RBS 6000 is Ericsson’s first software-upgradable base station, supporting GSM, GPRS/EDGE, Wideband CDMA and eventually LTE.

Ericsson is also introducing Evo RAN, a Radio Access Network (RAN) solution enabling operators to run GSM, WCDMA and LTE as a single network. It is intended to simplify network management, lower costs and reduce power consumption. Ericsson’s RBS 6000 is now a key component of Evo RAN. The solution also includes a new common network controller, the Evo Controller 8000. Evo RAN will also be available for existing GSM and WCDMA sites based on Ericsson’s RBS 2000/3000 base stations.

LTE is cellular’s next generation (pdf) as defined by the 3GPP (Third-Generation Partnership Project) and supports operations in both the paired spectrum and unpaired spectrum. It supports channel bandwidths of 1.4-20MHz and MIMO. The wide international support for LTE ensures economies of scale, enabling cost-effective solutions for network operators.

Verizon Wireless recently announced that it has activated 11 new cell sites in Illinois in the first quarter and is on target to build a total of 96 new cell sites in 2009 in the state. Verizon is expected to become the first wireless company to offer commercial LTE-based service, starting in 2010.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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