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« Convergence Should be Simple for End Users | Main | Roaming Working Group Formed »

February 21, 2005

Sprint/Nextel Unlikely to Deploy

By Nancy Gohring

Steve Stroh has some insightful theories on the future of Sprint and Nextel’s spectrum: He suggests that the companies will be quite busy with a number of different projects mostly related to their merger to actually deploy a broadband wireless network using their combined MMDS spectrum licenses. Stroh suggests that the recent noise Sprint has made regarding its plans to deploy WiMax once the mobile version is just that: noise. He suspects these announcements serve as a distraction that may cause competitors such as Verizon and Cingular to consider competing in the broadband wireless space.

Stroh also has an intriguing theory on what Sprint and Nextel may do with their valuable MMDS spectrum. He suspects they’ll lease it to Clearwire. That way Sprint/Nextel help Clearwire serve as serious competition to Sprint/Nextel rivals, namely SBC, BellSouth, and Verizon.

The idea certainly makes sense and is a possibility. Partly for irrational reasons, I lean toward hoping that Sprint/Nextel will deploy its own network using the spectrum. The irrational part is because I’d like to see another operator in the fray, coming up with its own ideas of how to build the network and how to market the service. It would be fun to watch.

But there are some legitimately good reasons for Sprint/Nextel to deploy a network using the spectrum too, for all the obvious reasons that any operator would be interested in deploying a broadband wireless network. Sprint/Nextel is in a unique position because of all the spectrum the new company controls. That means they could have an edge over competitors if they use the spectrum, either to target underserved communities or down the road to offer high bandwidth services to mobile customers.

It’s possible that in a roundabout way Stroh and I are on the same page about Hybrid’s equipment. The feedback I got back when I was covering Sprint’s deployment of the equipment (and I have to add that I haven’t circled back and talked to Sprint or its customers for a very long time and Stroh has) was that Hybrid lacked some capabilities that would be useful in a carrier grade network. For example, it was my understanding that Sprint couldn’t meter bandwidth on the network. That would mean that loading the network would be very tricky business. It’s a gamble to just perfectly oversubscribe the network such that at any given moment too many customers don’t log on and use up all the bandwidth.

Posted by nancyg at February 21, 2005 11:02 AM

Categories: operators

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