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Potential Sprint rural buildout by 2016

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A frequent point of contention here at S4GRU is Sprint rural buildout. Some argue that Sprint needs to add more rural coverage to compete with the VZW and AT&T duopoly. Others counter that doing so would not pass the cost benefit analysis test. Well, an impending regulatory issue may partly satisfy both camps.

 

I am not sure why this did not occur to me until just the other day, but as a side effect of its acquisition of Nextel, Sprint will have to deploy, at a bare minimum, some additional "license protection" footprint within the next three years.

 

To explain, Nextel's PCS G block 10 MHz licenses are nationwide but geographically divided by BEA. See the map linked below:

 

http://wireless.fcc....ata/maps/ea.pdf

 

The FCC chose a BEA licensing scheme because that corresponds with the licensing scheme used for Nextel's SMR 800 MHz spectrum, some of which Nextel agreed to relinquish in the Public Safety 800 MHz rebanding arrangement. The PCS G block is, thus, compensatory spectrum designed to align with Nextel's remaining SMR 800 MHz spectrum.

 

Now, Sprint's traditional PCS A-F block licenses are all based on MTA or BTA geographic divisions. The 30 MHz MTA and BTA based licenses require one third POPs coverage within five years and two thirds POPs coverage within 10 years. The 10 MHz and 15 MHz BTA based licenses require one fourth POPs coverage within five years. Sprint satisfied those construction requirements roughly a decade ago. See those maps linked below:

 

http://wireless.fcc....ta/maps/mta.pdf

http://wireless.fcc....ta/maps/bta.pdf

 

But here is the regulatory issue that Sprint faces in the next three years. Sprint holds PCS G block licenses in BEAs where it never had to construct a network because Sprint satisfied its PCS A-F block buildout requirements in the more densely populated areas of several very large MTAs.

 

For example, see Sprint's PCS G block license for the Great Falls, MT BEA:

 

http://wireless2.fcc...?licKey=3130353

 

The first buildout deadline, requiring "substantial service," is just a little bit less than three years from now. And Sprint currently has no native footprint anywhere in Montana. The same deadline and requirement hold for all PCS G block licenses across the country.

 

So, the likes of Great Falls, Billings, and Missoula, MT; Minot, ND; Rapid City, SD; and Scottsbluff, NE, etc., are apt to see, at the very least, a few PCS G block LTE 1900 "license protection" sites in the coming years.

 

And, by that time, SMR 800 MHz should be completely unencumbered outside of the IBEZ. Thus, Sprint may even use the PCS G block construction requirement as a means to deploy CDMA1X 800 and LTE 800, too. This may even help to explain why Sprint has chosen Montana as the location for its LTE 800 FIT area.

 

AJ

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Nice post and excellent points. Thanks for the information.

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Is there any potential for Sprint to lobby the FCC to alter the BEA requirements to align to their other holdings which are BTA/MTA?

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looks like there is a transfer associated with this block license that you referenced:

http://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsApp/ApplicationSearch/applMain.jsp?applID=7197161

what does this do and how does effect what you are discussing?

 

That is the pending SoftBank-Sprint transaction, and it has no effect on buildout requirements.

 

AJ

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This is exciting! I could see them adding protection sites in relatively large towns then maybe later connecting them together with the major interstates to officially offer service there.

 

Nice find!

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As a follow up, I am interested in cataloging all of the BEAs where Network Vision will not presently reach. This should not be a tall task, but is anyone interested in helping out and corroborating my data? The BEA map and text file are linked below:

 

http://wireless.fcc.gov/auctions/data/maps/ea.pdf

http://transition.fcc.gov/oet/info/maps/bea/bea1995.txt

 

AJ

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I am getting a tingle up my leg to quote Chris Matthews.

 

Sent from my SPH-L900 using Tapatalk 2

 

 

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As a follow up, I am interested in cataloging all of the BEAs where Network Vision will not presently reach. This should not be a tall task, but is anyone interested in helping out and corroborating my data? The BEA map and text file are linked below:

 

http://wireless.fcc....ata/maps/ea.pdf

http://transition.fc...bea/bea1995.txt

 

AJ

 

Don't do it by hand as I could do it via some spatial analysis for you, kinda like a I did with the County market map for Robert a good while back. The only thing you'll need to do by hand is the Shentel and any other affiliate areas.

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Don't do it by hand as I could do it via some spatial analysis for you, kinda like a I did with the County market map for Robert a good while back. The only thing you'll need to do by hand is the Shentel and any other affiliate areas.


Doing it by hand should not be all that difficult. There are not many BEAs that have no native Sprint coverage. In rattling off Great Falls, Billings, Missoula, Minot, Rapid City, and Scottsbluff, I already listed a good chunk of them. And I look at it like this -- if Sprint native footprint does not presently include the titular city in the BEA, then Sprint surely will have to construct additional sites to satisfy the "substantial service" buildout requirement.

However, if you want to work your GIS magic, I would be much obliged. Here is the list of BEAs associated with the constituent counties:

http://transition.fcc.gov/oet/info/maps/bea/cntynames2.txt

AJ

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I won't be able to do it until the end of next week though so if you guys can do it faster then go right ahead.

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I won't be able to do it until the end of next week though so if you guys can do it faster then go right ahead.

 

No problem. Honestly, I think we can take your previous work on the Sprint market-county map, overlay the BEA map, and see in about 15 minutes of examination which BEAs will likely require further PCS G block buildout to meet the "substantial service" requirement.

 

AJ

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I may have time tomorrow to do this by hand. In any event, by hook or by crook this is a good thing not only for both current and potential Sprint customers, but also Sprint as well. They've got plenty of time to satisfy substantial service requirements, even with NV going on elsewhere, and doing so will introduce a bunch of folks to Sprint where their choices have been AT&T, Verizon and maybe a regional carrier like CellularOne (MTPCS). Heck, I wouldn't be surprised to see Sprint hit some towns with LTE before AT&T does in these cases, though that's more a sad testament to AT&T's LTE deployment patchwork than it is to Sprint's prowess.

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No problem. Honestly, I think we can take your previous work on the Sprint market-county map, overlay the BEA map, and see in about 15 minutes of examination which BEAs will likely require further PCS G block buildout to meet the "substantial service" requirement.

 

AJ

 

Take note that there are a few "dual market" counties on the map.

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Do you think this has anything to do with Sprint's roaming agreements with Alltel ? (Verizon now). I think the agreement between Sprint and Alltel, is one of the reasons Verizon purchased Alltel. I thought I read somewhere that the agreement expires in 2016.

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Do you think this has anything to do with Sprint's roaming agreements with Alltel ? (Verizon now). I think the agreement between Sprint and Alltel, is one of the reasons Verizon purchased Alltel. I thought I read somewhere that the agreement expires in 2016.

 

No. This has to do with Substantial Service Requirements for their licenses. Sprint already has a roaming agreement with Verizon. The FCC will not allow VZW to block Sprint from reasonable cost access to roam on their network.

 

Robert via Nexus 7 with Tapatalk HD

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Interesting, so if I understand correctly, those areas where Sprint currently offers no service, they would have to build out protection sites broadcasting G-block, which is strictly for LTE, and use A-F plus SMR if available? Is that the jist of it?

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Okay, here is the list of BEAs in which Sprint has little or no native network. Thus, Network Vision rollout will not necessarily satisfy the "substantial service" buildout requirement for the PCS G block. Some of these BEAs, as indicated in parentheses, are or will be covered by affiliates/partners. And, in the case of Shentel, we know that it has already stepped up to the plate with Network Vision deployment.

 

BEA011 -- Harrisburg, PA (Shentel)

 

BEA016 -- Staunton, VA (nTelos)

BEA017 -- Roanoke, VA (nTelos)

BEA048 -- Charleston, WV (nTelos)

 

BEA111 -- Minot, ND

BEA112 -- Bismarck, ND

BEA114 -- Aberdeen, SD

BEA115 -- Rapid City, SD

 

BEA116 -- Sioux Falls, SD (Swiftel)

BEA117 -- Sioux City, IA (Swiftel)

 

BEA121 -- North Platte, NE

BEA142 -- Scottsbluff, NE

BEA143 -- Casper, WY

BEA144 -- Billings, MT

BEA145 -- Great Falls, MT

BEA146 -- Missoula, MT

 

BEA171 -- Anchorage, AK (GCI/Alaska DigiTel)

 

BEA173 -- Guam

BEA175 -- American Samoa

 

Feel free to vet my findings...

 

AJ

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Okay, here is the list of BEAs in which Sprint has little or no native network. Thus, Network Vision rollout will not necessarily satisfy the "substantial service" buildout requirement for the PCS G block. Some of these BEAs, as indicated in parentheses, are or will be covered by affiliates/partners. And, in the case of Shentel, we know that it has already stepped up to the plate with Network Vision deployment.

 

BEA011 -- Harrisburg, PA (Shentel)

 

BEA016 -- Staunton, VA (nTelos)

BEA017 -- Roanoke, VA (nTelos)

BEA048 -- Charleston, WV (nTelos)

 

BEA111 -- Minot, ND

BEA112 -- Bismarck, ND

BEA114 -- Aberdeen, SD

BEA115 -- Rapid City, SD

 

BEA116 -- Sioux Falls, SD (Swiftel)

BEA117 -- Sioux City, IA (Swiftel)

 

BEA121 -- North Platte, NE

BEA142 -- Scottsbluff, NE

BEA143 -- Casper, WY

BEA144 -- Billings, MT

BEA145 -- Great Falls, MT

BEA146 -- Missoula, MT

 

BEA171 -- Anchorage, AK (GCI/Alaska DigiTel)

 

BEA173 -- Guam

BEA175 -- American Samoa

 

Feel free to vet my findings...

 

AJ

 

 

I think i have a solution to the problem all together..

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I think i have a solution to the problem all together..

 

Is it a mobilesolution?

 

AJ

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I think i have a solution to the problem all together..

 

I would not call this much of a "problem," just a regulatory issue. But I think if Sprint is able to absorb Clearwire, then Sprint may leverage the BRS/EBS "license protection" sites that Clearwire has in most/all of these markets as a "solution" to overlay a PCS G block LTE 1900 carrier and satisfy "substantial service."

 

And that is what I am working on now -- cross referencing the listed BEAs with the locations of Clearwire "license protection" sites.

 

AJ

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I would not call this much of a "problem," just a regulatory issue. But I think if Sprint is able to absorb Clearwire, then Sprint may leverage the BRS/EBS "license protection" sites that Clearwire has in most/all of these markets as a "solution" to overlay a PCS G block LTE 1900 carrier and satisfy "substantial service."

 

And that is what I am working on now -- cross referencing the listed BEAs with the locations of Clearwire "license protection" sites.

 

AJ

 

My solution doesn't solve the Spectrum crunch, but it does get you backhaul....anywhere.

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For those markets where Sprint has no native nor affiliate/partner presence, this is what I found regarding Clearwire "license protection" sites:

 

BEA111 -- Minot, ND

BEA112 -- Bismarck, ND -- Clearwire: Bismarck (1)

BEA114 -- Aberdeen, SD

BEA115 -- Rapid City, SD -- Clearwire: Rapid City (1)

BEA121 -- North Platte, NE

BEA142 -- Scottsbluff, NE -- Clearwire: Scottsbluff (1)

BEA143 -- Casper, WY -- Clearwire: Casper (1), Cheyenne (1), Riverton (1), Thermopolis (1), Rock Springs (1), Green River (1)

BEA144 -- Billings, MT -- Clearwire: Billings (2), Sheridan (1)

BEA145 -- Great Falls, MT -- Clearwire: Great Falls (1), Helena (1)

BEA146 -- Missoula, MT -- Clearwire: Kalispell (1)

 

AJ

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One question I have is does Sprint currently have iDEN towers in some of those locales? I know MT is a no but I was thinking they had some coverage in ND and SD where Sprint was a bit thin. The whole affiliate/partner thing then complicates things. Ntelos is not a sure thing right now even for network vision. Swiftel, they are thinking about it and will get back in a year about network vision. They are not swift about anything related to the wireless network. It doesn't seem like they want to be bothered. I imagine if Sprint is still having issues with affiliates/partners that a waiver will be given for those areas.

 

One question I do have relates to the loss of partners. If they lose the partners which help Sprint satisfy a buildout requirement how is that worked out? Does the FCC ask Sprint to fill in those areas as they are no longer meeting buildout requirements and give a time period to complete the work?

Edited by userkv8031

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One question I have is does Sprint currently have iDEN towers in some of those locales? I know MT is a no but I was thinking they had some coverage in ND and SD where Sprint was a bit thin.

 

Not many/much. There are a few Nextel iDEN sites in and around Bismarck and Minot, ND and one in Kalispell, MT. But off the top of my head, that is it. And elsewhere in the West, Sprint has much greater footprint -- both native and roaming -- than Nextel does.

 

AJ

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