Sprint to reveal 4G plans this fall

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) intends to make its highly anticipated announcement concerning its 4G buildout plans this fall, CEO Dan Hesse said in a round table discussion with reporters at the company's headquarters.

Sprint has been using Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network to offer service to its customers, but Clearwire's network buildout has stalled at around 130 million POPs and the company has lost the first-mover advantage it had over Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ). Sprint, which is Clearwire's largest wholesale customer, holds a 54 percent stake in Clearwire. Hesse acknowledged the slowdown of Clearwire's rollout.

One thing that is known about Sprint's 4G plans is that it is not interested in taking over the rest of Clearwire, Hesse said. The CEO it was "an issue of economics" as the reason why Sprint doesn't buy out Clearwire and handle the rollout of the network itself. Sprint doesn't want Clearwire's debt-and-cash woes to hurt its own balance sheet.

In June, reports surfaced that made a long-term network-sharing deal with wholesale LTE provider LightSquared. According to a letter Philip Falcone reportedly sent to investors of Harbinger Capital partners, which is backing LightSquared, LightSquared and Sprint will jointly develop, deploy and operate LightSquared's LTE network, and Sprint will become a significant customer of the network. Both Sprint and LightSquared have been silent on the subject.

In December, Sprint chose Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and Samsung to modernize its network three- to five-year project that is expected to cost $4 billion to $5 billion. The key to the project is the deployment of new multi-mode base stations, which Sprint has said will give the operator greater technology flexibility, and could allow the carrier to deploy LTE at minimal cost.

For more:
- see this CNET article
- see this PC Magazine article

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