Ericsson CTO responds to vendor's absence from Sprint's Spark program

TOKYO--Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) CTO Ulf Ewaldsson said that his company is still part of Sprint's (NYSE:S) network even though the company was noticeably absent from Sprint's announcement of its forthcoming tri-mode LTE service called "Sprint Spark." The wireless carrier revealed that it will use equipment from vendors Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU), Samsung and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) Solutions and Networks for Sprint Spark, and not from Ericsson.

Ericsson's absence from Sprint's Spark vendor list is surprising considering Ericsson has been a long-time Sprint partner. Indeed, Sprint in 2009 announced it would outsource the management of its entire network to Ericsson in a seven-year outsourcing deal valued at $5 billion and involving 6,000 Sprint employees. Further, Ericsson is one of three vendors for Sprint's Network Vision network upgrade program, announced in late 2010, which has involved the shutdown of its iDEN network and the ongoing rollout of LTE network technology.

In an interview with FierceWireless at Ericsson's Business Innovation Forum here, Ewaldsson said Ericsson was not part of the Sprint Spark announcement but will "continue to compete for the operator's business." In addition he said that Ericsson will continue to be part of "Sprint's strategic network blueprint and will support and manage the network and services."

When asked whether Ericsson wasn't picked to be a vendor because Sprint's Spark service will use carrier aggregation in the 2.5 GHz band, Ewaldsson said that he would not comment on the specifics of the deal other than to say that Sprint was involved in a "big overhaul" of its network.

Sprint said it will bring the Spark service to the top 100 U.S. markets during the next three years. The technology essentially merges Sprint's LTE offerings in its 800 MHz, 1.9 GHz and 2.5 GHz spectrum, as well as TD-LTE and carrier aggregation technology, which the operator boasted will give users peak speeds reaching 50-60 Mbps and perhaps faster.

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