“Sprint is real,” wrote Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer Fritzsche in a note issued to investors over the weekend. “The RFPs are coming at an increasingly growing rate (and have built since the CFO change). These RFPs are wide in scope – macros, small cells and fiber. One contact even indicated S [Sprint] has already placed orders from some of these antennas.”
Fritzsche’s comments essentially answer investor questions about whether Sprint will indeed embark on a major network upgrade and expansion project. Fritzsche wrote that, based on Wells Fargo’s checks with various tower companies, Sprint is working to improve and expand its wireless network, and is doing so through by issuing “requests for proposal” to various providers to obtain new towers, small cells and fiber connections, likely for backhaul.
The Wells Fargo note also dovetails with a number of data points from Sprint and others, all indicating Sprint is moving forward with major network efforts.
For example, most recently tower company Crown Castle said it inked two new long-term customer agreements, though didn’t disclose those customers’ identities. “We believe the 2 customers were Sprint and Verizon, as weighted average remaining lease term increased to 7 years vs. 5 and 6 years, respectively, in Q3’17. Management did confirm that the pricing environment has not changed and the escalators remained the same,” Fritzsche wrote in a note to investors following the release of Crown Castle’s quarterly earnings.
Also this month, Sprint and Cox announced an agreement that will allow Sprint to use Cox’s wireline network for its backhaul efforts and small cell build-out. The new agreement between Sprint and Cox appears similar to the one Sprint and cable company Altice inked in November.
All of those actions by Sprint come after SoftBank’s chief executive Masayoshi Son said he would roughly triple Sprint’s capex to $5-6 billion. Son’s statement came immediately after the merger agreement between Sprint and T-Mobile fell apart.
Moreover, Sprint CTO John Saw said earlier this month that the company plans to add 2.5 GHz and 800 MHz antennas to virtually all of its existing cell sites and will also add new cell sites to its network to grow its coverage footprint.