Sprint (NYSE: S) is working with 12 rural and regional operators to expand their LTE footprint by offering them low-cost access to Sprint's LTE network and helping them get access to devices with 700 MHz Band 12 capabilities.
The twelve agreements, which include a previously announced deal with nTelos Wireless, cover about 34 million POPs in 23 states. The new operator deals include SouthernLINC Wireless, C Spire Wireless, Nex-Tech Wireless, Flat Wireless, SI Wireless which does business as MobileNation, Inland Cellular, Illinois Valley Cellular, Carolina West Wireless, James Valley Telecommunications, VTel Wireless and Phoenix Wireless.
The Rural Roaming Preferred Program, which Sprint developed in conjunction with the Competitive Carriers Association, is intended to expand LTE roaming and was announced last March. As part of its deal with the CCA, Sprint will use the CCA's data hub and allow CCA members to ink reciprocal roaming agreements with Sprint.
Sprint also said it will add 700 MHz Band 12 capabilities to some of its devices starting next year--spectrum that the carrier itself doesn't own but that many smaller rural carriers do and use for LTE.
These 12 agreements are complementary to the Small Market Alliance for Rural Transformation (SMART) initiative that Sprint formed with NetAmerica Alliance. SMART provides rural service providers with the capabilities to deliver LTE to their communities. Since March NetAmerica has inked 14 preliminary agreements with 14 companies.
Sprint's plans are similar to Verizon Wireless' (NYSE: VZ) LTE Rural America program, which the carrier established in 2010 in order to accelerate its LTE network buildout in rural areas. Under Verizon's program, rural carriers can lease Verizon's 700 MHz spectrum and use it to build out an LTE network. At least 20 operators have signed on to Verizon's LTE Rural America program.
- see this release
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