Sprint ends membership in NGMN Alliance after group backs LTE

FierceBroadbandWireless has learned Sprint has withdrawn from the The Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance, a group of global mobile operators that banded together last year to push for a common vision for networks and technologies beyond 3G. The operator was a founding member of the NGMN. News of Sprint's withdrawal was first mentioned in a research report from Signals Research.

Sprint said it ended its relationship with the NGMN Alliance after the group chose to endorse LTE (Long Term Evolution) for 4G. Sprint spokesman John Polivka said the NGMN was supposed to endorse the co-existence of various technologies without favoring one over another. In fact, he said, technology neutrality was a key tenet of the NGMN to make sure it didn't duplicate the work being done in existing standards bodies.

"Sprint was disappointed that NGMN shifted from its original technology-neutral stance. We respectfully withdrew our membership from the organization due to the change in direction," he said. "We are enthusiastically continuing with our plans to work with our burgeoning ecosystem and launch a WiMAX network in select U.S. cities beginning in the third quarter with expansion throughout 2009 and beyond."

Founding members of the NGMN Alliance include China Mobile, NTT DoCoMo, Vodafone, Orange, KPN and T-Mobile, all of whom back LTE. A quick look at the list of the 18 operator members on the NGMN Alliance web site shows the majority of the operators come from the WCDMA community, whose 4G path is LTE.

Related stories:
Femto Forum, NGMN Alliance unite for femtocells. NGMN story
NGMN announces "unprecedented" IPR plan. IPR story

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