Q4 2013 saw robust growth across the industry with subscriptions climbing by 4.688 million thanks to gains from all the providers other than Leap and U.S. Cellular. Sprint offered the biggest surprise with 58,000 contract additions. By taking the AT&T playbook to the next level offering an aggressive tablet promotion, the company turned another contract loss into a surprising win.
SAN ANTONIO, Texas--LTE remained the overarching topic of conversation here at the Competitive Carriers Association conference, with some smaller carriers opting to hold off on the technology while others plunged full-steam ahead into the market for high-speed wireless connections. The issue continues to remain critical as Sprint looks to partner with smaller operators for LTE buildouts, while vendors like Ericsson work to sell LTE equipment to new customers.
SAN ANTONIO, Texas--SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son issued a call to the small and rural carriers here at the Competitive Carriers Association trade show: "We need to fight back," Son proclaimed during a keynote presentation outlining Sprint's new efforts with the CCA and the NetAmerica Alliance to increase Sprint's LTE footprint.
SAN ANTONIO, Texas--Sprint announced new partnerships with the Competitive Carriers Association and the NetAmerica Alliance that the carrier hopes will encourage rural wireless carriers to build LTE networks that Sprint's customers will be able to roam onto. Importantly, Sprint said it will add 700 MHz Band 12 capabilities to some of its devices starting next year--spectrum that the carrier itself doesn't own.
Sprint is going to partner with smaller, rural carriers to create a virtual LTE network via roaming agreements as part of a data roaming hub set up by the Competitive Carriers Association. Further, T-Mobile is considering participating as well.
SAN ANTONIO, Texas--Sprint Chief Technology Officer Stephen Bye stopped short of voicing support for Hotspot 2.0 technology, saying instead that Sprint would continue to watch the standard's evolution. However, Bye said Sprint would continue to research ways of providing quality wireless service, whether over licensed spectrum or unlicensed spectrum.
Despite wireless operators offering a variety of pricing discounts to some customers, the pricing turmoil in the market has not really impacted the Tier 1 carriers' bottom lines, according to analysts at New Street Research. In fact, the analysts say carriers are set to report stronger-than-expected quarterly subscribers for the first quarter, thanks in large part to booming tablet subscription adoptions.
Sprint will rely on its CDMA network and HD Voice technology for voice calling services for the foreseeable future, said Sprint Chief Network Officer John Saw. Saw said Sprint is investing in Voice over LTE technology, but doesn't have a timeline for deploying the service.
AT&T has been told by the Michigan Public Service Commission that it now has to file an IP service interconnection agreement with Sprint.
AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega waded into the fraught debate over whether Netflix should be forced to pay to interconnect its video traffic to subscribers. Speaking at the Rutberg Global Summit, de la Vega said that video is driving exponential traffic growth. "We have to provide additional capacity," he said. "The only question is who pays for that addition?"