Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S)said it has made deals with Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU), Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Samsung Electronics to combine the operator's various bands of spectrum into a single base station. Sprint will spend some $5 billion on the project.
Sprint said it plans to save at least $10 billion over seven years because of decreased costs in energy and roaming. It also will reap the benefits of maintaining fewer cell sites. Sprint currently runs a CDMA EV-DO network in the 1900 MHz PCS band, has a wholesale deal with Clearwire to use WiMAX in the 2.5 GHz band and owns an iDEN network in the 800 MHz band.
Sprint said the base stations will allow flexibility to offer new technologies using any of the 800 MHz, 1900 MHz or 2.5 GHz bands, as well as other spectrum bands. Sprint and the three companies expect to finalize the implementation schedule and begin the first stages of deployment in 2011. Completion of Network Vision, Sprint's name of the project, across the Sprint network is expected to take from three to five years.
Alcatel-Lucent will work on Sprint's network in the Boston to Washington corridor as well as Los Angeles. Ericsson and Samsung are responsible for five cities each, including Atlanta, Dallas and Miami for Ericsson and Chicago, Denver and Seattle for Samsung.
Sprint said it will begin phasing out the iDEN network in 2013.
Chinese vendor Huawei was reportedly in the running for the deal but Sprint decided to block Huawei and ZTE from getting its multi-billion-dollar network modernization project because of mounting national security concerns about the Chinese vendors, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal last month.
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