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To Maintain Network, Sprint Turns to Partners and Roaming Agreements



In a cost-cutting move, Sprint, the nation’s third largest carrier, will, instead of deploying its own network and utilize its spectrum, be turning to other carriers through roaming agreements. By instituting roaming agreements, Sprint’s customers in Oklahoma and Kansas would still be able to have access to voice and mobile broadband data services in those areas. The benefit is that Sprint won’t have to maintain or build infrastructure to support its own network and will instead by relying on others’ networks to provide service to customers.

Sprint’s new proposed business arrangement is made possible since the FCC has essentially revoked the Home Market Rule. Under the old Home Market Rule, carriers must build infrastructure in areas where they own spectrum rather than rely on roaming agreements.

The move is finding an opposition in AT&T. Sprint and AT&T have been at each other before, with the former more recently leading a charge against the latter’s attempted merger with T-Mobile USA, which has since been cancelled due to strong opposition. AT&T is challenging Sprint’s move in court.

The Now Network had released the following statement about AT&T’s challenge:

“It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that AT&T wants to challenge a consumer’s right to access email, the Internet and other mobile broadband services wherever they may travel in the U.S. Along with Verizon Wireless, AT&T is the only other wireless carrier in America which opposes the FCC’s pro-consumer data roaming decision from last year.

The facts are that Sprint, as part of its Network Vision program, doubled its 2011 capital investment over 2010 to make tens of thousands of capacity upgrades, resulting in a better wireless experience for its customers. With these network investments, Sprint continues to offer consumers a better value than AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.”

Sprint has also been actively pursuing LTE deployment as part of its Network Vision strategy. The carrier had announced and previewed 3 new 4G LTE devices at CES 2012 and hopes to launch LTE in more markets throughout the year. The move to LTE is part of Sprint’s migration away from rival 4G WiMax technology as it tries to provide customers with faster mobile broadband speeds in a bid to remain competitive with rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

Via: The Verge



  1. Raul Santiago85

    01/25/2012 at 8:16 am

    It’s probably a win for customers, but a bit shady I say. I remember when I had Sprint I used to hope my phone would roam because the service was so shitty. The voice network was spotty and the data network….absolutely horrendous. I can’t tell you how long it would take to load a youtube video on 3G, and their whack 4G never made it really anywhere. I had a 4G phone which was always on 3G and the 3G sucked. I’m at Big Red now and don’t suffer such problems. Every now and then I gotta reset my radio since I do toggle between 3G and 4G to save battery. But the service is always there. I gotta go with AT&T on this one. If Sprint wants to act like an MVNO, they should lose their Tier 1 status. I understand the need for roaming agreements. Sprint seems to rely on other networks a bit much though. They knock Verizon and AT&T but use the former’s network in the advertising. Nice.

  2. John Taylor

    01/25/2012 at 10:07 am

    AT&T has it facts wrong.

    Sprint hasn’t moved any customers off of its network. These customers in certain rural areas of Oklahoma and Kansas were long served by a roaming partner. The change Sprint announced simply notified customers of that fact.

    Roaming agreements benefit consumers because carriers can extend their network footprints. They also benefit carriers, even AT&T.

    AT&T, for its part has more unused spectrum than any other carrier in the country. They’ve also under invested in the AT&T network on a per subscriber basis when compared to the rest of the industry by a wide margin. That’s what makes the criticism from AT&T’s lobbyist especially rich.

    For many years, the FCC has required wireless carriers to negotiate “just and reasonable” rates for voice roaming — now it is requiring the same for data roaming. For consumers, this means you can check email, surf the Net and use other data services wherever you travel in the U.S.

    That’s why the entire wireless industry, with the exception of AT&T and Verizon, supports the FCC’s move.

    High data roaming prices may benefit AT&T and Verizon shareholders, but they’re bad for consumers and competition.

    John Taylor
    Public Affairs

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