Another Rumor: Lightsquared + Sprint?

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Broadband Reports says that Lightsquared and Sprint are working in conjunction on future LTE plans, with Sprint’s recently-announced base station retrofit now the cornerstone of Lightsquared’s nationwide LTE ambitions.

A source tells Broadband Reports a number of things were discussed, including the potential for removing network build obligations from Nokia and instead giving them to Alcatel-Lucent, Ericcson and Samsung. A primary discussion point at those meetings was something called “Project Freedom,” which the source insists to us is the codename for Sprint’s liberation of their 4G fortunes from Clearwire.

According to supporting documentation, Lightsquared informed meeting attendees they were working with a 3GPP2 partner “who will allow for Lightsquared to deploy its network much quicker.”

This partner, which the attendee again insists is Sprint, would work in conjunction with Lightsquared to jointly develop and deploy cell sites. The satellite portion of Lightsquared’s network would not be impacted by this movement, and a second phase of Lightsquared’s ambitions would involve “adding support for MetroPCS diversity,” says the source.

The Lightsquared + Sprint rumor has been around. It could be a contingency plan for Sprint in case a T-Mobile deal doesn’t happen. Satellite consultant Tim Farrar says given the rumors of a partnership between Sprint and T-Mobile, it now looks less likely that either Sprint or T-Mobile would be willing to move ahead with any partnership with LightSquared.

Clearwire is testing 90Mbps LTE, using LTE in 2×10 MHz, 2×20 MHz and 1×20 Mhz (TDD) configurations using gear from Samsung and Huawei.

One of Lightsquared’s advantages would be better propagation at 1.6 GHz. But Sprint doesn’t need the spectrum – they’ve got plenty at 2.5 GHz. And that spectrum doesn’t require special handsets – it’s standardized world-wide.

Sprint’s “Network Vision” includes phasing out its iDEN network beginning in 2013, which uses 800 MHz. Sprint’s cellular network was built around PCS frequencies (1900MHz). The heart of the project is the deployment of new multi-mode base station, which Sprint says could allow it to deploy LTE at minimal cost.

Starting in 2011, Sprint plans to improve its push-to-talk (PTT) service on CDMA, move users over via multi-mode handsets, and then begin phasing out iDEN in 2013. There are NO immediate plans to force migrate iDEN customers to the CDMA network, says Sprint (pdf).

Sprint says the project will be divided between Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Samsung on “a market-by-market basis.” The markets for each company will include:

  • Alcatel-Lucent: New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington/Baltimore, and Los Angeles
  • Ericsson: Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Kansas City, and Dallas
  • Samsung: Chicago, Denver, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Seattle

Sprint estimates the total net financial benefit over a seven-year period will be between $10 billion and $11 billion. Cost savings are expected to come from capital efficiencies, reducing energy costs, lowering roaming expenses, backhaul savings and the eventual reduction in the total number of cell sites.

Clearwire began commercial Mobile WiMAX operations in Baltimore Maryland, in October 2007 and how has over 4 million subscribers, nation-wide. About 11 million Sprint customers use the iDen network which carries walkie-talkie voice services, but does not support high speed data.

Related Dailywireless articles include; LTE Spectrum: It’s War, Verizon: Usage Based Pricing, More T-Mobile Spectrum Rumors, Charlie’s Big Play, T-Mobile: No Spectrum Deal…Yet, T-Mobile Makes Its (4G) Move, Clearwire testing 90Mbps LTE, FCC Green Lights Lightsquared, Lightsquared + Sprint?, Clearwire to Test LTE, Phoney Spectrum Scarcity, US Wireless Business: Good Margins, Clearwire to Test LTE, Cheat Sheet for Cellco Financials, WiMAX in More Cities, LTE Plans Leaked, Sprint Nextel: LTE/WiMAX Double Header?, Denmark Getting LTE, Qualcomm Gets Indian Partners, India’s Broadband Auction: It’s Done, 4G Auction in UK by 2011, AT&T Data Caps Extend to Femtocells, AT&T’s New Data Plans, T-Mobile: Now HSPA+ Coverage for 75M, Public Safety: Show Us The Money, Clear: No Limits, FCC to Okay $2.3B AT&T Deal, Cellcos: One Thing – Bandwidth, T-Mobile Eyeing Clear Spectrum, FCC Considers Auctioning Off TV Frequencies, FCC Okays Terrestrial LTE for SkyTerra, Battle of the Bands Goes to Congress, D-Block: It’s Done; Congress Pays

Posted by Sam Churchill on Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 at 12:03 pm .

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