Tim Yu Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, June 8, 2018 - 3:00 PM PDT
It has been a little over a year since the first Magic Box publicly available was announced. In the time since then since the Airunity 545 "GEN 1" was announced, minor revisions were done as "GEN 2" with the Airunity 544 sporting a LCD display and subsequently the Airunity 546 having an more aesthetically pleasing exterior. All LCD display models are known as "GEN 2" respectively.
Come next week starting on June 11th, 2018, the GEN 2 Magic Box's (AU544/546) will be considered out of stock and a GEN 3 Magic Box will take over the reigns in the beginning of July 2018.
Though information on this new unit is scarce, information attained by S4GRU does suggest the new revision may potentially contain user accessible USB Type A ports and have a slightly lower transmit power.
More to come as S4GRU discovers additional information about this GEN 3 Magic Box.
Seth Goodwin Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Monday, April 30, 2018 - 5:00 PM PDT
After three previous attempts during the past four years, something many thought may never happen actually did. On Sunday April 29, T-Mobile announced they were effectively acquiring Sprint in an all stock deal, combining the third and fourth largest carriers in the U.S. wireless market. Pending regulatory approval, the merger is targeted for closing in the first half of 2019.
The deal using an exchange ratio of 0.10256 Sprint shares for each T-Mobile share valued Sprint at approximately $26.5 billion (plus the assumption of Sprint’s $30+ billion in debt) or $6.62 per share using T-Mobile’s Friday closing price of $64.52. The combined company “New T-Mobile” will be owned 41.7% by Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's parent company. 27.4% of the company will be owned by Sprint's parent company SoftBank, with the remaining 30.9% owned by the general public and institutional investors.
According to terms of the deal announced by both companies in a joint press release, the combined T-Mobile will retain two headquarters in Bellevue, Washington and Overland Park, Kansas. Current T-Mobile CEO John Legere will retain that role at the new company. T-Mobile’s Mike Sievert will serve as President and COO. No Sprint executives were announced to the management team at this time. Deutsche Telekom's Timotheus Höttges will serve as chairman of the company's board of directors, and DT will have 9 seats on the board compared to SoftBank's 4. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, and SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son will occupy two of SoftBank’s seats.
As opposed to the famous T-Mobile/AT&T attempted tie up several years ago, this deal does not include a breakup fee should the merger fail to pass regulatory approval. Rather, Sprint has independently signed a roaming agreement with T-Mobile for four years that will continue regardless of the outcome of the merger. On the analyst call for the merger announcement Marcelo Claure said this would take effect immediately. As of the time this article was published, specific details pertaining to the roaming agreement and any actual known roaming connections have yet to materialize.
Sprint and T-Mobile will continue operating separately until the conclusion of the merger, something that in and of itself raises multiple questions about this coming year. Hopefully we'll gain some more insights with Sprint's upcoming FY 2017/4th quarter earnings call. Assuming approval, the companies announced that they intend on spending up to $40 billion in the first three years on capital expenditures and consolidating operations into a single entity. According to the press release, this represents almost 50% more than what Sprint and T-Mobile combined had spent over the past three years.
At the time of closing, the companies estimate that Sprint and T-Mobile will have approximately 110,000 macro cell towers. Of these, around 35,000 will be decommissioned due to co-location or other redundancies. 10,000 new sites will be added leaving New T-Mobile with approximately 85,000 macro sites. Within the first three years of a combined company it is also estimated that the carrier will have over 50,000 small cells independent of magic boxes. The two carriers currently have around 10,000 combined.
The stated plan is to “use T-Mobile as the anchor network” and use selected Sprint “keep” sites to add coverage and density. At a minimum, Sprint’s BRS/EBS 2.5 GHz spectrum will be added to T-Mobile’s sites and T-Mobile’s “full spectrum portfolio” will be deployed on Sprint’s “keep” sites. At face value, this would point toward mainly decommissioning Sprint sites as part of the 35,000-macro site reduction. In actuality we'll see what they do. For example all things equal, if two sites are co-located the greater synergies are in eliminating the tower rack with less favorable lease terms or worse rack location.
VoLTE and Two-dot-Five
The conference call noted while the goal is to migrate Sprint's CDMA customers to VoLTE as soon as possible, with 20 million Sprint customers having T-Mobile compatible handsets on day one. The intention is to have the total migration to T-Mobile completed over a three-year period without “degrading experience on Sprint’s network.” This suggests at a minimum keeping Sprint’s 1x800 voice service active during the transition as well as a deliberate coordinated process for overall decommissioning of macro sites.
The other thing to watch going forward in this area is that T-Mobile makes no mention in their investor presentation toward utilizing anything other than Sprint’s 2.5 spectrum on their sites. A Sprint T-Mobile merger would create a spectrum behemoth with holdings ranging from T-Mobile’s low band 600 MHz for building penetration and rural coverage all the way through Sprint’s 2.5 GHz for capacity and speed. On Sunday, executives announced they have no intention of divesting any spectrum. However, questions remain on issues like what does a company that already possesses 600 MHz and 700 MHz LTE spectrum do with 800 MHz? How do T-Mobile and Sprint independently spend CapEx this year without diminishing merger synergies? We at S4GRU plan on potentially analyzing a combined company’s significant aggregate spectrum situation in a separate article at a later date.
According to the investor information provided, the combined company is estimated to have run rate cost synergies in excess of $6 billion annually or on a net present value basis in excess of $43 billion. $26 billion NPV or $4 billion annually of these annual savings would be derived from network consolidation and CapEx synergies. Additional savings could come from consolidation of operations including store closing and eliminating corporate redundancies. From Sprint’s perspective these savings would be significant. The carrier has not turned a profit in the past 10 years. However, with these savings (even a portion of these savings) the carrier hypothetically would have been profitable all 10 years.
This merger is not a done deal by any means. It faces regulatory scrutiny from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Under the administration of former President Barack Obama, AT&T and T-Mobile attempted to merge only to be shot down by the government. Sprint and T-Mobile were reportedly told not to even try four years ago.
The prior administration's thinking had constantly been that by allowing any combination of the big 4 U.S. wireless carriers to merge into three, consolidation would negatively impact the average consumer due to lower competition in the market. On the conference call Marcelo Claure noted that regulatory approval is “the elephant in the room.” Claure and Legere are expected to embark on a tour of Washington D.C. to try and gain favor for the merger later this week.
Much has changed in Washington since Sprint and T-Mobile’s last attempt at a tie-up, but whether or not a merger is anywhere close to a guarantee to pass remains in limbo. President Donald Trump has positioned himself as a pro-business President, meeting with Masa Son shortly after his election. And while Trump’s FCC chairman Ajit Pai has made comments signaling he may be more open to market consolidation than his predecessors; President Trump’s DOJ is simultaneously attempting to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner. Claure and Legere noted that they had talked to Pai, but had yet to talk to anyone at the DOJ prior to announcing the merger.
With nothing guaranteed, selling this merger to the government and the public is going to be the key factor on whether or not it ultimately gets approved. Sprint and T-Mobile executives wasted no time in starting on Sunday launching the pro merger site allfor5g.com. Legere and Claure continued touting the merger in a series of interviews and television appearances Sunday night and Monday morning. Based on early results, the argument for the merger is fairly crafted towards its intended audience.
The crux of T-Mobile and Sprint’s contention is that 5G is the future, and the future is costly. Both companies maintain a 3rd stronger carrier is better than 4 carriers in a market, two of which are at a capital disadvantage. Claure noted that, “It’s a very simple rule of business---both companies need each other.” Sprint has 2.5 GHz spectrum that will be optimal for 5G but lacks the financial resources to deploy its own. A new T-Mobile benefits from the 2.5 GHz spectrum, a larger combined customer base, financial synergies, and greater economies of scale to effectively deploy 5G. Legere noted their goal to eventually be able to provide 450 Mbit/s speeds consistently everywhere.
The 5G argument is significant for a couple of reasons. The first is the current administration has made 5G a quasi-national security issue. The merger of Qualcomm and Broadcom was blocked partially on the grounds of China taking the lead in 5G, and it was widely reported at one point that the Trump administration was considering nationalizing 5G out of security concerns with China. The goal here is that if you let New T-Mobile happen they contend that they will be in a position to deliver 5G rapidly, creating a sense of urgency that a deal needs to be approved sooner than later. If you don’t let them combine they aren’t in the same position to make that happen. They also contended that 5G would allow for the innovators of the future, a not so thinly veiled overall economic development message.
The other major 5G argument centers on rural expansion. For a long-time wireless rural cell service and rural broadband have been an important political and economic development issue. Historically rural service has lagged as the infrastructure cost to deliver service far exceeds any revenue operators can hope to recoup. Legere and Claure have immediately been pushing the notion that a merger would allow the combined carrier to bring rural broadband across the nation (as well as creating jobs in rural areas during the network deployment).
Lastly, their final argument centers around job creation. Typically, one of the reasons companies merge is that you can save money by eliminating duplicate positions within two separate organizations. Legere on Sunday claimed that this merger would create “thousands of American jobs” with 200,000 people working either directly for or on behalf of a combined entity. This likely faces more regulatory scrutiny than some of the other pro-merger arguments, as again typically mergers result in overall contraction. Furthermore, Sprint on its own announced several hundred layoffs within the past few months.
In the near term, the FCC at some point soon is going to impose a quiet period forbidding anyone that is participating in this fall’s spectrum auction (an auction Sprint and T-Mobile are seeking a waiver for to jointly coordinate bidding strategies) from discussing mergers. Additionally, the longer the wait is, it is likely some of the merger synergies would be eliminated. Sprint towers that are redundant to T-Mobile are not to Sprint itself. If Sprint's executive team was to be believed, Sprint was poised to spend $5 to 6 billion on Capex each of the next three years. Undoubtedly some of that, a potentially significant portion, would've been on towers T-Mobile has no interest in retaining. Slightly longer term, if there was ever a presidential administration to try this under it is this one. Much like this merger's outcome President Trump's re-election is far from a certainty. If a Democratic administration were to come back to Washington D.C. odds of any merger approval diminish significantly.
Longer term yet, Sprint hasn’t turned a profit in 10 years. Marcelo Claure has done a more than admirable job at steering the ship during his four-year tenure: cutting costs, coming up with creative cost-effective network deployment strategies, etc. However, at some point access to traditional borrowing markets may have been cutoff due to Sprint's inability to generate a profit or even consistent free cash flows. It didn’t appear imminent given their two-time borrowing this year, but the company has over $27 billion in debt due over the next 6 years. It is pretty easy to envision a scenario where bond investors said times up. Beyond that, the simple burden of debt may have become so overwhelming that even if it didn't threaten the going concern of the company, it negatively impacted capital expenditures, something we've seen recently.
Long-term is actually the story of the past 5+ years. Sprint has incredible spectrum assets, but it needed someone more financially able and willing to deploy them. SoftBank through either inability to act due to debt covenants with Japanese banks lending it money or through deliberate choice—in hindsight was never the savior it seemed. On paper, this merger should seemingly create a financially healthy company that finally is able to leverage Sprint's vast spectrum assets. However, as in the past, time will tell...
Source: 5gforall- https://allfor5g.com/
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 10:01 AM MST
Clearwire let loose today with a select reporting of Q4-2011 financial results. Of course, these are cherry picked to get the mood about Clearwire's financials prospects reversed into positive light. However, I must admit they look a little better than I was expecting.
Clearwire managed to double revenues from the previous quarter reported in 2010. This is attributable to sizable growth in its wholesale business, of which, a whopping majority comes from Sprint Nextel. Their retail business is experiencing significant churn, which is not a surprise given Clearwire's abandoning their retail business model. I was actually expecting churn to be higher.
Clearwire's cash and equivalents are notably higher and cushion the company much better than previous quarterly releases. This is most likely do to Sprint's cash infusions announced last quarter.
I think it's too soon to get completely bullish on Clearwire. However, these are definitely positive developments for the beleaguered wireless carrier. Clearwire is sitting on massive spectrum reserves, which add a huge value to the company's spreadsheets. Clearwire continues to plan for and develop its new upcoming 4G TD-LTE network.
Clearwire will have to integrate and deploy its new LTE network very carefully and thoughtfully. Currently, Clearwire is very dependent on its WiMax network to bring in the revenues. WiMax revenues are likely near their peak and expected to start declining in the next few quarters. Clearwire will need to try to get LTE to generate revenue at a minimum of dollar to dollar as WiMax declines. And that is looking less likely as the LTE network will not likely generate any revenues until Q4-2012 at the earliest. With the exception of perhaps some prepayments from Sprint.
Separately, Clearwire offered $300 Million in Senior Secured Notes to raise additional funding for operations. If I were a betting man, I would wager that Clearwire is releasing these cherry picked Q4 results in order to raise these funds. But I would do the same thing, myself.
Clearwire is expected to release full 4th Quarter results prior to the February 17th Q4-2011 Results call.
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 11:42 AM MST
Bob Azzi, Sprint Network Senior Vice President, will present at the opening keynote address at the RCA Competitve Carriers Global Expo on March 29th in Orlando. In his remarks he is expected to provide a Network Vision deployment update. Let's hope we hear some juicy details long before that!
If so, you know you'll hear them rebroadcast at Sprint 4G Rollout Updates!
by Scott Johnson Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 6:09 PM MST
Could the newest Samsung flagship, the highly anticipated Galaxy S III, be weeks away from being announced? That is the claim of Eldar Murtazin, the Russian tech blogger. Murtazin tweeted “HD resolution, 12 mpx camera, sw tweaks, android 4 - i like my new phone. Eager to see official announcement in Barcelona.”
By official announcement in Barcelona, he means it will be announced at the MWC in Barcelona in February and if it follows the timeline of the Galaxy S II (which was also announced at the MWC), it could hit shelves by April.
No speculation on when the US will see the device, but it was nearly 5 months from the European release to when the Galaxy S II hit US shores. This is one of the more credible rumors that have come out about the device as Murtazin is well connected and seems to frequently find a way to get phones prior to release. Some skepticism can be expected as he has been wrong before (see "Google phone rumor was started by Apple") and the specs he quotes are general expectations of what the phone is assumed to have on board.
Murtazin didn't come out and say anything specific about the processor, but hinted at a quad core in the 1.5-1.6 GHz range. A lot of speculation was confirmed with his tweet. A HD resolution screen would follow the progression of phone displays, as would the advancement to a 12 megapixel camera. SW tweaks and Android 4 is most likely referring to Ice Cream Sandwich with a Touchwiz skin. He later said that the phone was "fast" and had good battery life.
Murtazin finished breaking news by claiming Nokia would release the Lumia 900 in Europe as the Lumia 910 with a higher megapixel camera in May, but would be too late to compete with the Galaxy S III.
Samsung Galaxy S3 rendering courtesy of Social-Catalog.com.
Source: "Samsung Galaxy S III rumored to go on sale in April: HD screen, quad-core processor, 12-megapixel camera, running ICS"
by Scott Johnson Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Thursday, January 26, 2012 - 12:01 AM MST
Many of us enjoy the freedom that rooting or jailbreaking our phones gives. Adding custom ROMs, removing “bloatware” or Carrier IQ, and adding additional controls are just the start. We knowingly take the risk that that we may turn our phone into a brick, and our warranty will likely not cover repair or replacement. But will we knowingly commit a criminal act to unlock our phones?
Apple has claimed that jailbreaking the iPhone was in conflict with copyright laws. Given the amount of time they spent locking down iOS, it’s no surprise they oppose it. In July 2010, the U.S. Copyright Office eventually decided that jailbreaking and rooting was not a violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), as long as it was not done with the intent of circumventing copyright. However, this decision was not permanent. If it is allowed to expire next month, jailbreaking and rooting could be considered breach of the DMCA.
Development websites like XDA started out with the public perception that they were underground gatherings of hackers and pirates. Since the U.S. Copyright Office published the finding that jailbreaking and rooting was not illegal, those development websites have become widely popular and have largely changed the public's perception. Even Steve Kondik, aka “Cyanogen”, creator of the widely popular Android ROM CyanogenMod was hired by Samsung.
Due to the liberties that millions of us enjoy about to be removed due to the sunseting DCMA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has begun a campaign to keep our phones free. They are undertaking a campaign to convince the U.S. Copyright Office that we should have the right to unlock not only our smartphones, but our tablets and video game consoles. They have a petition that they will send to the U.S. Copyright Office, and they are asking for Concrete examples of legal uses of jailbreaking that “will help show the Copyright Office why they should renew and expand the exemptions for jailbreaking.”
You can visit the EFF’s jailbreaking page here: https://www.eff.org/...ee-your-devices
Photo courtesy of iphonefreakz.com
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, January 27, 2012 - 2:21 PM MST
Earlier this week, Clearwire announced it was seeking $300 Million in additional funding, suspiciously timed with announcing cherry picked results from its 4th Quarter 2011. And now today, Clearwire has announced that they have closed sale on that $300 Million in debt.
Clearwire said that these monies were raised “for the deployment of mobile 4G LTE technology alongside the mobile 4G WiMAX technology currently on its network and for the operation and maintenance of its networks and for general corporate purposes.”
However, this all comes at a very high price. This funding is at a rate of 14.75% due in 2016. But for many of us, we are looking forward to a Clearwire TD-LTE network. So, whatever it takes to get to the finish line!
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 3:50 PM MST
The Federal Communication Commission announced today that they will allow AT&T to withdraw it’s merger application. There were some rumblings coming out the past 24 hours saying that the FCC may prohibit AT&T from withdrawing because they may want to go on record actually denying the merger. AT&T threatened to sue the FCC if it was not allowed to withdraw.
In the grand scheme of things, today’s announcement from the FCC that AT&T can withdraw their application is good news for them. AT&T now is in a Hail Mary type of scenario to still get the merger with T-Mobile approved. They know that the FCC is not the best avenue to fight this out right now. Not to mention the cost and resources of fighting two different agencies. AT&T is still planning to proceed with the Dept. of Justice trial in February. The DOJ is using AT&T on anti-trust grounds.
Though it may be a long shot, it’s believed if AT&T can be successful in the DOJ trial, then it may re-apply with the FCC to merge. And it will have a powerful ruling backing it up. But everyone admits it’s an uphill battle. Even AT&T. As AT&T has now set aside the funds in 1Q-2012 to pay T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom should the deal fail. Likely not something they would do now if they were optimistic.
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 5:14 PM MST
Today, Fierce Wireless is reporting that Sprint has signed off and agreed to Dish's use of the S-Band (2 GHz) spectrum. It's is immediately adjacent to Sprint's PCS G-Block, which they plan to deploy LTE on. In October, Sprint filed a complaint to the FCC raising questions about interference, and other issues.
So, Sprint and Dish Network started to get heated in their arguments after Sprint's early concerns were filed. However, they seem to have made up nicely and quickly. Perhaps this is a clue that Sprint and Dish Network are working closely on a spectrum hosting deal?
Dish Network's LTE network could be relatively easily deployed with Network Vision. And Sprint would love to get some extra LTE capacity out of the deal. And unlike the deal with LightSqaured, regulatory approval of switching S-band from satellite to terrestrial use should be a cake walk.
See the link to the story from Fierce Wireless below...
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 5:14 PM MST
The tech and financial world are abuzz today about new rumors that Sprint and Clearwire are close to a new deal. Confidential sources are saying that they may even be close enough to preliminarily announce a deal by Thursday. As those of you who are following this closely know, Thursday is the due date of Clearwire’s jumbo $237 Million payment that they have threatened to default on. Though, technically, there is a 30 day grace period.
However, I remain somewhat skeptical of a quick and hasty announcement tomorrow, as there are many details yet to be worked out. Also, there is no need to be hasty, given the grace period involved. Additionally, all the rumors appear to be coming from inside the Clearwire camp, and not the Sprint side. These leaks could be a means to pressure Sprint to finalize a deal.
Shockingly, both Sprint and Clearwire have declined to comment.
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Thursday, December 1, 2011 - 8:20 AM MST
This morning Clearwire has come out with a Press Release stating that they have come to an agreement with Sprint on new funding. Up to $1.6 Billion in additional funding in total. This is significantly more than analysts were anticipating if Sprint were to come to the rescue.
The deal, as reported from Clearwire on Thursday morning, would include keeping the existing WiMax network operating through 2015. Good news for WiMax device holders living in WiMax coverage areas. It also involves a path forward partnership between Sprint and Clearwire on a new 4G LTE network on Clearwire's EBS/BRS spectrum (2500-2600MHz). This is seen by analysts and Wall Street as necessary for Sprint's future spectrum needs for it's upcoming LTE network.
In the short term, this will allow Clearwire to pay it's $237 Million debt payment that is due today. It always had the liquidity available to make the payment, but Clearwire was weighing options of non-payment to help keep it's cash reserves up. This new development should ease these concerns. And as Clearwire considers other means to raise cash, making this payment will help to those ends.
Sprint is offering up to $926 Million to Clearwire for it's continued use of the WiMax network for it's 4G through 2012 and then will be transitioning to a usage based model for payment of services. Past deals involved flat per user fees. An extended deal will ensure that customers who purchase new WiMax devices will have access to WiMax networks at least through the completion of their two year contracts. The deal also allows for Sprint to wholesale Clearwire's network to it's MVNO and Enterprise customers.
One of the key aspects that this blog is most interested in relates to Network Vision and the LTE network build out. This deal will help to better align Clearwire's spectrum into Network Vision when and where additional LTE capacity is needed and Sprint's owned spectrum will not provide enough capacity. This will ensure a better 4G LTE experience for many years to come and will help to squelch frequent concerns from the blogosphere and Wall Street about Sprint's 4G LTE network capacity that would likely result from only using Sprint owned spectrum.
However, in the press release, it appears to be saying that Sprint will not release devices until 2013 that support Clearwire's TDD-LTE network. This likely means that the first LTE devices being released in 2012 will not support these additional frequencies. This may not be well received by LTE customers. And could result in many people delaying the purchase of LTE devices until devices are released that support all Sprint LTE frequencies.
Sprint will not be providing funds for Clearwire's LTE network build out at this point. Sprint will provide up to $350 Million in Prepayments to Clearwire for LTE service if Clearwire manages to get funding for their LTE network on their own and meet build out time line requirements. Sprint and Clearwire will also start with a usage based fee model with LTE from day one. Additionally, starting in 2013, Sprint will work with Clearwire to add LTE to it's Network Vision towers where additional capacity is needed. These locations could even be in markets where Clearwire doesn't even offer service.
Sprint may even offer additional equity funding to Clearwire. But only if Clearwire can secure other equity funding from other sources. Because Sprint does not want to increase the amount of equity it has in Clearwire greater than 49.6%. So additional funding from other sources would involve more monies from Sprint at a rate to maintain that pro rata basis.
Updated at 9:05 AM MST with more details. Edited at 9:18 AM MST with readability corrections.
Press Release: http://corporate.cle...eleaseID=629282
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Thursday, December 1, 2011 - 10:22 AM MST
At a Bank of America investor conference this morning, Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer said, "We thought (the iPhone) would do very, very well for us, and it has." In fact, Sprint is now estimating it will sell more than one million iPhones before the end of the quarter on December 31st.
But more importantly, Euteneur credits unlimited data as the reasons for the iPhone launch success. "We're also getting real gross adds," he said. "I think that one of the reasons they're coming is that it's simplistic. It's one flat rate."
For Sprint customers hoping and praying for unlimited smartphone data continuing, this is a glimmer of good hope. If Sprint believes that iPhone success is tied directly with unlimited smartphone data, it's all the reason why they need to keep their business and network plans aligned with unlimited offerings.
Euteneur also ceded that Sprint's network has been even further pressured by the success of iPhone sales. But he committed to network upgrades and enhancements to alleviate those concerns. That we continue to wait for. But we have learned not to hold our breath.
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 1:28 PM MST
Yesterday, Sprint updated us all that we can expect devices in the 3rd and 4th Quarter of 2012. Previously, Sprint has used terminology that it expects to release LTE devices in Mid 2012. Of course, because something new was said, the blogosphere and message boards have gone bonkers exclaiming delays.
The big deal probably comes from the assumption that many folks have made that Sprint would release LTE devices around June 4th. Sprint never made such a claim. However, many wireless dorks jumped to the conclusion that Sprint would release a LTE device when countless numbers of Evo device holders start coming off contract.
The original Evo went on sale on June 4, 2010. And it's initial sales were a blockbuster success. The Evo sold millions of units, as well as the Epic that came out shortly afterward. And Sprint definitely is in a pickle if these device holders have no LTE device to upgrade to. Especially in Non-WiMax markets. It's going to have to start pumping out incentives to keep them.
Since many people assumed Sprint was trying to make this early June date, to hear 3rd Quarter sounds like a significant slip. However, Sprint has never said they would make June with LTE devices. Since October 7th, they have been a constant chorus saying the first LTE devices could be expected in Mid 2012. And that they would release approximately 15 LTE devices before the end of 2012.
When is Mid-2012, technically? The very middle of 2012 is July 1st. OK...so for the most part Sprint has been saying they will be releasing their LTE devices some time in the period in the rough proximity to July 1st.
Now Sprint is saying they are releasing their devices in the 3rd and 4th Quarter of 2012. And in another quote, they said they second half of 2012. I'm no calendar genius. But I know that the third quarter begins on July 1st. And the second half of 2012 begins on July 1st also. Is this really much of a deviation, if any? Sprint did not specifically say there was delays.
In further conversation about the subject, Sprint's Chief Financial Officer Joe Euteneuer said it’s likely that the LTE devices will be released in the third quarter. So even if it was the end of the third quarter, that's the second half of September. Nothing here to suggest the sky is falling, really. And a Sprint spokesperson even confirmed that Mr. Euteneuer's comments don't speak to any delay and are being misinterpreted.
And furthermore, even if Sprint is experiencing a delay, I hope it's for good reason. Like they now see it as important to make sure their initial devices support more than one LTE frequency. It would be tragic if Sprint's initial LTE devices only support LTE on 1900. If Sprint is wise, their LTE devices would be dual-band and support LTE on 800 and 1900 right from the gates. And it would be even better if they are LTE tri-band and support 2500 too. That way, new LTE devices will meet Sprint customer needs for years to come.
And if delaying the release of LTE devices by 30 to 45 days gets them to dual-band or tri-band LTE support, then it'll be worth the wait. And that's if there really is a delay occurring at all.
Joe Euteneuer, Sprint Chief Financial Officer
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 3:05 PM MST
Sprint has announced it's first Network Vision tower is completed and live in Branchburg, New Jersey. It is broadcasting data over 3G-EVDO and 4G LTE and voice over 1x. The announcement of the first fully live tower in the New York Metro Area brings joy and hope to millions of Sprint customers in the area that they will see a completed Network Vision rollout first in the country.
Even though this is the first one completed and fully operational, you can rest assured this is not the only tower being worked on currently. Sprint has three contractors (Samsung, Alcatel/Lucent and Ericsson) that are deployed nationwide working on Network Vision on hundreds, if not thousands, of towers at the moment. Samsung recently confirmed they are working in Chicago on LTE for Sprint.
"We have our first LTE site up and running. This is really the start of Network Vision," Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer said at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. "We have the first one up, operational and running just fine."
Furthermore, Mr. Euteneuer yesterday claimed that Sprint's LTE will perform similar to Verizon and AT&T's advertised LTE download speeds of 5MB to 12MB. There has been much concern that Sprint's LTE speeds will be too slow because they are deploying only 5x5 LTE carriers. Half the size of Verizon's 10x10 carriers.
But it is seen as good news that Sprint will deploy it's LTE network in a way to match those speeds. And maintain their network performance to try to keep them there. In an article earlier today we explained how Sprint will partner with Clearwire to add more capacity to keep their LTE speeds up where performance starts to slip.
Granted, Verizon's LTE network is capable of producing speeds much higher than the 5MB to 12MB they advertise. But, Verizon only promises these speeds in a wise overdelivering marketing strategy. However, AT&T cannot be so bold as to boast it's LTE speeds that way. AT&T does not have 700MHz nationwide for LTE. And in many of the places they do have it, they have half what Verizon has.
In one third of the country, AT&T has 24 MHz of 700 spectrum. In those markets, they can offer LTE that performs like Verizon. In another third, they only have 12MHz of 700 spectrum. There they can install one 5x5 carrier. Exactly as Sprint is installing nationwide. And in the last third, AT&T has no 700MHz spectrum at all.
So AT&T has a very mixed bag in the short term for it's LTE. And they will not be in much of a position to brag about it's LTE network over Sprint. Verizon will remain tops in LTE speed and coverage for a long time to come. But Network Vision will bring at a minimum at least LTE on PCS band nationwide over the next 24 to 36 months.
Even though there is tendency to focus on the LTE aspect of Network Vision, we would be remiss if we failed to remind that Network Vision will substantially improve 1x voice coverage and 3G EVDO service as well. In speed, coverage and capacity.
Sprint said in their Press Release that, "Sprint expects to make additional announcements about market deployments early next year." We would love some detailed info that comes out like a steady faucet. Something we can track and disseminate right from this blog, perhaps?
AT&T Map courtesy of PhoneScoop.com
by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 10:39 AM MST
On Monday, Clearwire announced it is planning on offering up two sales of new common stock to raise up to an additional $345 Million in new funding to help build out it's planned TD-LTE network on it's 2500MHz spectrum.
Last week, Sprint and Clearwire announced a new funding plan in which Clearwire would receive up to $1.6 Billion in new monies from Sprint Nextel. However, to get all that funding, Clearwire had to meet several milestones and other requirements. Also, separately Sprint offered up an additional $347 Million in additional equity funding. But in order to get those additional funds from Sprint, Clearwire had to find other equity sources to match Sprint's offer. Because Sprint does not want to change it's ownership percentage in Clearwire to be greater than 49.6%. So new equity funding in the these new sales would be matched with Sprint equity funding to maintain the 50.4%/49.6% ratio.
Clearwire to focus equity funding on LTE build out
Should the sales be successful and Clearwire receive the maximum funding possible from Sprint, Clearwire says that they intend to use these new equity funds to begin building out a LTE network in 2012. Clearwire has tentatively stated that their LTE plans begin with adding 20MHz TD-LTE carriers at existing WiMax deployed areas. But before you get excited, this almost certainly does not include WiMax protection sites.
In most markets, Clearwire has said it is a rather simple upgrade to convert their towers to LTE. But the work involved to convert base stations is more difficult and expensive in the early WiMax markets (like Portland). However, what has not been simple to date for Clearwire has been funding. They are hoping this will be the solution to their short term funding problems.
Also, there have been rumors that Clearwire will reduce the number of WiMax carriers from three to one in places they add LTE. But Clearwire has yet to comment on this directly. But this could cause significant WiMax congestion in many urban areas, if true.
Sprint to use Clearwire LTE to enhance it's LTE network
It's of great importance to note that Sprint's deal with Clearwire for LTE is for increased capacity on top of Sprint's LTE. Sprint is currently rolling out it's own FD-LTE on 1900MHz PCS G-Block with it's Network Vision upgrades. And will add an additional FD-LTE carrier on it's 800MHz spectrum as soon as the Nextel iDEN network is transitioned off in 2013. Sprint LTE deployment is already under way and the first tower went live in Branchburg, New Jersey yesterday.
Sprint's LTE is completely independent of Clearwire's LTE network. Sprint's LTE network is planned to go over it's entire CDMA footprint. Clearwire's network is not planned to ever be so extensive (unlike the aspiring plans of it's WiMax network). And Sprint will not be dependent on it to be extensive. Sprint will use it's own LTE network to be the mobile broadband workhorse, where most of the traffic will run. It will only use Clearwire in places additional capacity is needed. Clearwire will almost certainly not have a LTE market covered that Sprint doesn't.
Clearwire is focusing it's LTE build out in two ways. First, to add LTE service to it's existing WiMax network. Probably starting with the largest and most dense markets first. Clearwire may not even try to get LTE over it's entire WiMax coverage area. Instead, just focusing on primary and strategic secondary markets. Places where their wholesale business model will pay off most. I could see them not caring much about places like Abilene, Texas and Modesto, California, etc.
Second, Clearwire has committed with Sprint to focus on adding it's TD-LTE on Network Vision towers when and where additional capacity is needed. This will also most likely be in primary and dense secondary markets. This part is very good news for Sprint customers. Provided that Sprint monitors the network in a proactive manner, this will mean that Sprint's LTE should never suffer from consistent capacity issues. Even if unlimited smartphone data remains.
How Sprint will utilize Clearwire TD-LTE network with it's own FD-LTE
Here are some examples of how the combined LTE network deal would work. Let's say you live in Downtown San Diego. In 2012, Sprint shows up with LTE service on 1900MHz. You get good speeds and service from day one. And slowly over time Sprint sells more and more devices to customers in your cell. In approximately 12 months or so, the 5x5 FD-LTE carrier you use in Downtown San Diego starts to have reduced performance beyond what the highly sophisticated LTE network can mitigate.
But now Sprint deploys it's 800MHz 5x5 FD-LTE carrier on your tower. And between the two carriers, LTE capacity has doubled. And Sprint adds more and more LTE customers. In another year, the two carriers start reaching capacity, so Sprint asks Clearwire to add a TD-LTE carrier to that tower for more capacity. In another two years, that site starts reaching capacity again, and Clearwire adds another TD-LTE carrier. In many markets, Clearwire can add 5 or more 20MHz TD-LTE carriers. Clearwire will likely only add them at Sprint's request, one base station at a time, as Sprint needs them.
Also of note, is that even at towers where Sprint adds Clearwire LTE service for capacity, Sprint customers will likely only be using it when the 800/1900 LTE is maxing out. Like during the evenings. During the day you may be on 800 in your basement and 1900 in your Living Room. But in the evening, you may transition to Clearwire 2500 in your Living Room. But the network controls and your device will make the experience seamless to customers. You just see the same 4G icon and maybe with some minor signal strength variability.
Now take this to suburban Indianapolis. Maybe the initial two Sprint LTE carriers don't bog down for three years. But when they do, Clearwire comes in adding carriers tower by tower where additional LTE capacity is needed. And given Sprint's Network Vision architecture, these adds will be relatively inexpensive. And everything should be set up in advance to add them easily and quickly.
And in tertiary and rural markets, Sprint will likely never need to add Clearwire TD-LTE carriers to their towers. The 1900MHz will cover most of them sufficiently. But even the ones who eventually get strained on 1900, Sprint's 800MHz FD-LTE carriers will be deployed by the time they would experience any performance loss.
Exciting times for Sprint and Clearwire. The only things between them and these future LTE successes is money. But incrementally, this appears to be working out more and more. Let's all hope Clearwire can raise the paltry $350 Million to get Sprint's matching equity bucks.
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - 10:25 AM MST
An Over the Air (OTA) Update has started rolling out today for owners of Sprint's popular flagship device. The Loss of Signal bug (LOS) has been a popular topic in forums since the Samsung Epic 4G Touch hit the streets in September. But now E4GT owners can breathe a sigh of relief.
The bug was purported to cause the device to lose all signal, causing the signal indicator to get a circle with a line through it. Nothing would restore the signal except for a complete device reboot. The issue happened most often when transitioning from towers with weak signals, especially when the 4G antenna was on. It happened to me once when going from roaming to Sprint 3G, both with weak signals.
The OTA should get to your devices in the next 10 days to update automatically. Rooted device owners and those with Custom MOD's may or may not receive updates (depending on what you have actually done to your device). You will need at least 50% battery strength to install the update.
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Monday, December 12, 2011 - 2:59 PM MST
Today, Sprint hosted a Webinar online talking to large Enterprise customers about Network Vision and LTE. And of course, Sprint 4G Rollout Updates signed in and went along for the virtual joy ride. It was an informative presentation, although brief and missing lots of nerdy details that we would have loved.
The webinar was hosted by John Barcomb, a Sprint Network Development Manager. He steadily went through most of the basics of Network Vision and 4G LTE deployment over an hour. Many of the familiar NV presentation slides were used, as well as a few new ones.
A point that Mr. Barcomb repeated several times is ‘while we are in the neighborhood with Network Vision, we will be adding LTE.’ This is a point he stressed and reiterated to make it clear that even early Network Vision markets will be receiving full LTE-1900 deployment. This is an appreciated point, because I have heard comments from several people concerned that the early Network Vision deployments may not include LTE. Sprint repeatedly has said their LTE deployment will begin in Summer 2012. However, in reality, Sprint’s LTE deployment is under way right now. It’s just that the first LTE devices that will be able to run on it will not be public until Mid 2012. Also, the repeated point is also likely to emphasize that LTE is going system wide over the entire Sprint network.
Mr. Barcomb says that Sprint will release specific deployment information in the future, but have not to date because of the recent decision to accelerate Network Vision. Every aspect of Network Vision had to be re-reviewed and many markets had to be reorganized and replanned as a result. Now in hindsight, it probably was a good idea that Sprint hadn’t released a rollout schedule, yet. Can you imagine the frustration and chaos that would have emerged if your city was announced and then pushed back? Now, none of us is the wiser.
Additional details that emerged from the webinar include:
Kansas City. KCMO/KCKS will be one of the first Network Vision markets. As Mr. Barcomb said, “Surprise, surprise.”
LTE Advanced. The way that Sprint is deploying their LTE network in Network Vision will allow it to easily upgrade to LTE Advanced when it comes to market in 2013.
First NV Tower. The first Network Vision tower that was completed and went live last week is performing even better than they anticipated.
Planning is complete on the first 22,000 sites. All the cell sites that are to receive Network Vision/LTE upgrades in 2012 (the first22k) have been fully surveyed and planned. With this work complete they are able to proceed with scheduling and material ordering. This represents about half of all the towers that will remain after Network Vision. Planning for the rest of the sites is presumably under way now or in the very near future.
Tower Agreements. All the tower agreements are complete allowing work to commence per their schedule.
LTE Devices. Contracts for initial LTE devices have been completed with OEM’s.
Reducing number of towers. Although the number of total towers is being reduced from over 60,000 to approximately 40,000, Mr. Barcomb reiterated that only redundant towers will be removed. The very high percentage of them being Nextel iDEN towers. The amount of 1900 PCS coverage will not go down, but will go up. And when you consider the 800MHz coverage that will be coming online in 2013, the amount of coverage will substantially grow, even from the reduced amount of towers.
Sprint Direct Connect. Sprint’s new PTT (Push to talk) network called Sprint Direct Connect will be available on roaming partner networks in the first half of 2012. All current SDC-PTT devices already have the capability to PTT roam. Sprint Direct Connect is currently having equal or better connection times than iDEN. After Network Vision, it will be better in all places, except when roaming.
Sprint’s towers after Network Vision not only are going to provide better, faster and stronger service than now, but they will also be better than their competitors on similar frequencies. Part of Network Vision is that radios are being installed up high on the tower near the antennas, instead of down at the base station. This produces much more improved performance than originally theorized. And this will result in Sprint offering better signal and propagation than any other PCS or 800 MHz carrier, ever. In places where Sprint and Verizon broadcast the same frequency from the same tower, the Sprint user will have a stronger signal, further coverage and potentially faster data. This will be one of the best advantages of Network Vision.
In the slides below, Sprint is showing examples of what Network Vision will do for coverage in the case of Atlanta, Georgia. Seeing things like this is what gets me excited about Network Vision.
Before Network Vision. In this slide, you can see an example of what Sprint’s current PCS coverage in 1900MHz currently looks like in Atlanta. These colors loosely represent what you would experience on your phone’s signal strength indicator. Think of Green as 5/5 bars. Yellow as 4/5 bars. Red as 3/5 bars. Blue as 2/5 bars. White is one or zero bars. Click on image to enlarge slide.
After Network Vision. In this slide, you can see what the Sprint PCS 1900 coverage looks like in the Atlanta Metro Area after Network Vision. As you can see, the coverage is drastically improved. The amount of 5 bar, 4 bar and 3 bar coverage goes up, and the amount of poor or no coverage nearly goes away. This improvement is a result of superior radio performance in quality and distance that is gained from the way Network Vision is deploying. With radios up high on the tower near the antennas instead of down at the ground in the base station cabinet. Network Vision towers are even performing better than originally anticipated. Click on image to enlarge slide.
After 800MHz deployment. In the most dramatic slide of the Webinar, Sprint displayed how coverage would appear in the Atlanta Metro Area once 800MHz service is deployed in 2013. I nearly fell out of my seat. In this amazing image, you can see that most of the coverage area would have 5 out of 5 bars! And virtually every nook and cranny in the area would get a signal. And with 800’s great propagation characteristics, you could get a great signal inside virtually every building too. With Sprint’s 800MHz being deployed in Network Vision with the radios up high on the tower, Sprint’s 800 will likely perform noticeably better than AT&T and Verizon’s 700MHz. At least until AT&T and Verizon develop their own Network Vision type program. Click on image to enlarge slide.
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Monday, December 12, 2011 - 6:02 PM MST
Today, it appears that Clearwire has met it's equity funding hurdle, raising over $350 Million dollars. With the new stock sale funding, they will be eligible to receive up to $347 Million in additional funding from Sprint Nextel. Up until it was announced today, it was beginning to look like Clearwire may not be able to raise enough money. But the stock sale underwriters acted on an option to purchase, add added $52.5 Million to the total, saving the day for Clearwire.
Now with this fresh infusion of $700 Million, Clearwire will be in a position to start building out it's planned TD-LTE network on it's exhaustive 2.5GHz spectrum holdings. Clearwire has said previously they will begin their LTE deployment in existing WiMax markets. However, in the past few weeks they have also said they will work with Sprint to develop TD-LTE on Network Vision towers, when and where additional LTE capacity is needed.
Clearwire has not announced any specific development timelines for it's LTE network. It seems that Q3-2012 would be the earliest that Clearwire TD-LTE deployment could physically begin.
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, December 7, 2011 - 2:45 PM MST
In an article on the Seeking Alpha website today, the writer posts many reasons why investors should invest in Clearwire. Lots of good and valid points. But given the press', and most specifically the financial press', overt dislike of Clearwire, I was very surprised by the report.
Take a read of the article by clicking on the link or the image at left. Feel free to add your thoughts below.
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, December 16, 2011 - 12:42 PM MST
Today, Sprint announced that it is no longer collecting information using Carrier IQ. It has also been rumored through Geek.com that Sprint has requested OEM's to strip Carrier IQ from new devices.
Sprint has had to take these steps due to consumers crying foul since the Carrier IQ debate began a few weeks ago.
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Monday, December 19, 2011 - 2:42 PM MST
BREAKING NEWS: AT&T is pulling out of it's merger with T-Mobile. Coincidence that the tyrannical merger dies right after North Korea's tyrannical leader? I think not!
AT&T said it had agreed with Deutsche Telekom to drop its $39 billion bid to buy the German company's U.S. wireless company T-Mobile given increasing regulatory obstacles and lawsuits attempting to block the deal.
AT&T said in a statement on Monday that it will enter a roaming agreement with Deutsche Telekom. AT&T confirmed it would take a $4 billion charge as part of the break-up of the T-Mobile merger. The companies agreed to this break-up fee when they agreed to merge past Spring. AT&T said the companies will also enter into a mutually beneficial roaming agreement.
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - 3:31 PM MST
“I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque”, as Bugs Bunny often said. Or in the case of AT&T, maybe they should have taken a left turn at T-Mobile and went straight for Dish Network. Today BGR and Retuers wrote articles that perhaps an AT&T buyout of Dish Network is the natural migration path now for Big Blue and it’s 4G spectrum crunch. Seem far fetched?
Dish Network is sitting on 40MHz of S-Band spectrum (2.0GHz). This is the largest single chunk of spectrum available for a 4G network in the United States, short of Clearwire. And Dish Network picked up this spectrum for a relative steal.
Currently, the S-Band can only be used for satellite communication. But Dish Network has submitted a request to the FCC for a variance for it to be used for a terrestrial mobile broadband LTE network. This is expected to be approved by the FCC, with probably only build out timelines as requirements. Only Sprint put forth any significant opposition to the move, and they withdrew their concerns a few weeks ago. Probably to help grease the wheels for a deal with Dish.
Dish is weighing several options for a build out of it’s planned LTE network. It could go it alone and build it from scratch. This is seen as too slow and cost prohibitive. It also has been in talks with Sprint and going along with it’s Network Vision build out. And this may still happen. But there is nothing to believe that this has been worked out to date.
We also know that Dish has been talking with T-Mobile. It’s possible that Dish could use its massive spectrum on T-Mobile’s network. This could be a part of a hosting agreement, a joint venture, or it’s possible that Dish Network might buy out T-Mobile itself from Deutsche Telekom. These are likely more expensive propositions than a spectrum hosting deal with Sprint. And also would mean a slower deployment. However, depending on the preferred path Dish took with Tmo, it could leave them in a much better position and control.
If Dish Network prefers a Sprint deal over a Tmo deal, or vice versa, they aren’t letting anyone know. They are playing their cards close to their chest. They are most likely leveraging the potential deal with the other to secure the best deal possible. Having some competition helps, right? Dish Network is the wealthy and pretty girl who just moved to Wireless Carrier High, and all the guys are fighting over her and her assets.
And now, maybe this will be a three way competition? Maybe AT&T wants a piece of this Dish Network action? 40MHz of spectrum is hard to ignore for a carrier with a hundred million customers starving for a robust 4G network. And though Dish’s 2000MHz spectrum isn’t as wonderful as 700MHz, it’s a far cry better than Clearwire’s 2.5-2.6GHz.
AT&T could come up and offer Dish a network sharing deal that could easily trump Sprint and Tmo’s best. Also, AT&T may just buy out Dish Network out right. Most likely through a structured agreed to deal, but maybe even a hostile takeover of Dish stock. AT&T could afford to do that. And it just may have no choice. It’s long term spectrum options are thin. And if AT&T can steal Dish Network out of Sprint’s arms, then that would just be icing on the cake! Talk about high school dramatics.
An AT&T/Dish Network deal will not receive the regulatory approval scrutiny that the previous merger with T-Mobile did. Dish Network is not an AT&T competitor. The same number of Tier 1 carriers will still be around after closing of a deal. It will likely not affect competition in the Top 100 markets. And currently, Dish’s spectrum is unused. The FCC would love to see it in use for 4G and as soon as possible. That’s something AT&T will be able to deliver should a deal with Dish Network be reached.
All be told, this is going to be a very exciting time in the wireless world in the next few months. Everyone wants to take Dish to the prom. What is a Dish to do?
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 4:19 PM MST
According to an article on Barron’s website today, Jennifer Fritzsche of Wells Fargo is becoming bullish on Sprint Nextel. Her upbeat attitude on the third largest wireless company in America came after a meeting with Sprint CEO Dan Hesse yesterday. “We walked away from the meeting feeling continued confidence in the company’s turnaround strategy,” wrote Fritzsche.
“While this story admittedly may take a few quarters to show tangible results that the ship is indeed turning, we believe S is laying the foundation to improve the model’s longer term margin profile.”
Based on her positive take on Sprint’s future from this meeting, Fritzsche targeted a “valuation range” of $3.50 to $3.75. Given that Sprint’s stock traded around $2.30 today, this would indicate a belief in ‘up, up and up’ for Sprint stock.
This is undoubtedly welcome news by Sprint executive management. Sprint is in the process of deploying it’s Network Vision infrastructure and LTE upgrades. And is borrowing billions of dollars to do it. Any cooperation and good news from Wall Street will help in the borrowing effort. One analyst down, 3,417 more to go, Dan.
Now if we could just get some juicy Network Vision details!
by Robert Herron Sprint 4G Rollout Updates Friday, December 23, 2011 - 11:19 PM MST
Thursday night, the Federal Communications Commission blessed AT&T by approving their $1.93 Billion purchase of Qualcomm 700MHz spectrum holdings. AT&T originally worked out a deal to purchase this spectrum over a year ago, but this purchase was lumped in with the T-Mobile merger by the FCC. The FCC only recently re-separated the deal. Most of the approval conditions placed on the deal were relatively minor. Both AT&T and Qualcomm were pleased with this outcome.
Several smaller spectrum license holders in the lower 700MHz blocks were calling on the FCC to require interoperability as a condition of approval of this action. And this seemed reasonable to me, and I was hoping the FCC was going to require it. These carriers have been handicapped by what appears as AT&T and Verizon trying to control chipset manufacturers into creating chips that would only run on their portions of 700MHz spectrum. Whether intentional or not, that has been the result. And AT&T and Verizon sure are not complaining.
These carriers asked the FCC to consider requiring AT&T to start selling devices that ran on their A-Block 700 spectrum too. This way chip manufacturers would essentially have to make chipsets that run on the entire Lower 700 band, and thus these carriers would finally be able to secure chipsets for OEM's to start making devices that run on their spectrum. However, the FCC conditions only went so far as to require that AT&T not set up it's network in a way that would prohibit roaming, should other carriers sell devices that were capable of using this spectrum.
In essence, AT&T (and Verizon too) are benefitting from their competitors being shut out from using their 700 spectrum. Because these small carriers cannot get chipsets that run on their frequencies. AT&T and Verizon are large enough that they can guarantee numbers of chipsets high enough that will get chip manufacturers to create custom units that run on their frequencies only. The smaller carriers cannot do that.
AT&T has claimed in the past that they aren't being anti-competitive and throwing their weight around. They want us to believe it's just a coincidence that comes to their benefit. But AT&T went as far as to say they would cancel their deal with Qualcomm for this spectrum if interoperability was required. This appears to support the idea that AT&T is manipulating every advantage it can to essentially shut out their competition. Also, if the lower 700 holders cannot use their spectrum, it may mean they will have to sell it. And probably for less than it could be worth with full interoperability. And AT&T would certainly be there and ready to try to scoop it up.
For those of us who really want to see 700MHz interoperability for the sake of meaningful wireless competition, do not fret. The FCC says that they are aware of the problem, but could not solve the problem with this deal. "Even if we assume that the lack of Lower 700 MHz interoperability causes significant competitive harm, such harm already existed independent of the license transfer applications before us," said the FCC in the order. "We believe the better course would be to consider the numerous technical issues raised by the lack of interoperability through a rulemaking proceeding, and we plan to begin such a proceeding in the first quarter of next year."
An article was posted on the Seeking Alpha website titled, "How Sprint & Clearwire Can Use AT&T to Unlock Billions in Value." It's a very interesting read that went over details why it would be wise for Sprint to buy Clearwire out right. This is something I never would have ever recommended before reading the article.
It's a long read, but raises some very interesting points. If Sprint could master a Clearwire buy out in a way exactly as mentioned in the article, it could work and be very beneficial for the company.
However, even the best laid plans...
UPDATE: The article was taken down by Seeking Alpha for some reason. Conspiracy, perhaps? Either way, I was able to get the data from the article in a Google Search cache, thankfully. I have reposted below.
Posted on Seeking Alpha website, December 22, 2011 at 2:46 PM. Submission by Helix Investments.
Source (now taken down): http://www.seekingal...llions-in-value
to me rural coverage matters most....because i like being able to make phone calls and send texts in remote areas of the country ...i dont care about speeds i just care about per square mile coverage and over all usability and reliability
I think that most cellular players exaggerate their coverage. Yes, I suspected a long time ago that T-Mobile was one of the most egregious. Now according to the merger presentation, they will end up with 85,000 macro sites. That will be enough to match the coverage of pretty much everybody.
Like you, I appreciate not having dropped calls or undelivered texts. In my area on my T-Mobile MVNO, I don't get any but can't say it won't happen elsewhere. Once Charter offers service via their Verizon MVNO, I think I will move my 4 personal lines there. My business line will stay on Sprint/T-Mobile, well, because I can't control that.