Speculation on Sprint Infrastructure

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Sprint’s anticipated infrastructure strategy announcement makes for interesting speculation. What will they announce this fall? Who knows. Two guesses; support for LTE and as a host for terrestrial satellite phones.

Sprint could support LTE the same way other CDMA carriers support LTE. Not too much mystery there.

Carrying terrestrial satellite signals would be another likely strategy. Dish Networks recently purchesed both ICO and TerreStar, the two bankrupt 2 GHz satellite phone providers. If Lightsquared’s 1.6 GHz launch becomes problematic due to GPS interference, then they might utilize Charlie’s 2GHz spectrum — on Sprint towers.

Dish doesn’t want to be a cellular operator. Dish tipped their hand when it told the FCC it was opposed to AT&T’s proposed merger with T-Mobile USA. It said it “would harm competition and consumers by, among other things, potentially discouraging Dish Network from entering the market to provide mobile broadband.”

Sprint could be the operating company of choice for both Dish Networks and Lightsquared.

Would Dish Network become a partner with LightSquared? Why not. LightSquared is now proposing to use just a 10-MHz swathe of its spectrum to avoid interference with GPS signals (although the GPS community remains unconvinced). That doesn’t seem like a good business model. Dish, on the other hand, has 20 MHz of nationwide satphone frequencies. One company (Sprint) could operate them both.

On the 2.6 GHz band, Sprint might go with TD-LTE. Dividing the Clearwire spectrum is easier using unpaired channels. The Chinese and Indian mobile markets – committed to TD-LTE – will guarantee commodity pricing for infrastructure and handsets. Sprint would be all set for 20 MHz-wide channels using LTE-Advanced. And they still have Nextel’s 800 MHz frequencies in their pocket.

A CDMA/LTE handoff has vendor support from Samsung, LGEricsson and Nokia Siemens Networks, and is currently used by overseas carriers. Meanwhile, any Sprint iPhone would need to have dual CDMA/WiMAX radios, like their other 4G smartphones that use Sequans chips. Sequans dual-mode chips can transition from WiMAX to LTE. Qualcomm’s next-generation Snapdragon supports LTE and both GSM and CDMA networks.

Sprint could offer a phone like China Mobile’s TD-LTE iPhone — with unlimited LTE service. It doesn’t seem like rocket science.

Why didn’t a Sprint/T-Mobile deal happen? Money. Estimates then placed T-Mobile’s value at between $15 billion and $20 billion. But just a few weeks after talks with Sprint, AT&T blew away any deal. It made an offer Deutsche Telekom couldn’t refuse: $39 billion. Sprint, with its market cap of just $16 billion and its heavy debt load of $18 billion, simply didn’t have the money to compete with AT&T.

Related DailyWireless Space and Satellite News includes; LG Telecom: CDMA & LTE Handover, Ergen Likely Got TerreStar, Charlie Ergen’s Spectacular Triple Play, Will Sprint Go TD-LTE?, LightSquared Report Card: “F”, Lightsquared Files Official FCC Report , Lightsquared: Plan “B”, Lightsquared: Lawmakers Skeptical, Lightsquared + Sprint Deal Done?, Lightsquared Gets 2-week Extension, Ergen Likely Got TerreStar,

Posted by Sam Churchill on Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 at 10:08 am .

Leave a Reply