Monday, May 05, 2008

Oh, Sprint

Well, it's been another fun week for Sprint.

Qwest dropped Sprint as their Wireless Vendor to go with VZW. [businessweek]

Sprint loses re-banding appeal on Nextel's iDen network:

"Federal court says June 26 deadline to vacate iDEN 800 MHz spectrum stands firm regardless of whether public safety is ready to move. Sprint will have to vacate its Nextel 800 MHz spectrum in June, even if public safety agencies haven’t vacated the spectrum by then, a federal appeals court ruled today. Sprint has said that if it lost its appeal, the fallout could cost it as much as $3.4 billion, resulting from the loss of its iDEN network in hundreds of areas." [source]

T-Mobile's parent DT rumored to want to buy Sprint even though TechDirt has reasons they shouldn't. The main reason is: how do you integrate iDEN, CDMA with GSM??

UPDATE: On the one hand I can see why DT would want to buy Sprint:

  1. It's cheap right now (Junk status actually)
  2. Under-utilized assets like its fiber backbone and IP Network.
  3. iDen network can be spun-off for a Public Safety play. Sprint is already thinking of spinning off Nextel.
  4. Pivot - its partnership with cable companies.
  5. All that 2.5 GHz spectrum.
  6. XOHM, WiMax, and the VC money to build it from Intel et al.

On the other hand, what does T-Mobile gain by buying Sprint-Nextel? The CDMA and iDen mixed signaling isn't compatible with T-M's GSM network. The 2 systems are one of the reasons that Sprint is crippled. Handsets don't come with chipsets for more than one signaling code.

Big reason not to: Sprint just lost its largest cellular customer - Qwest.

Why would DT want this mess? Sprint just lost an appeal of an FCC order to move off the spectrum that Nextel shares with public safety by mid-June. Estimates are that it will cost about $3B more than the $1B it has already spent to re-allocate spectrum.

There were rumors months ago that DT wanted to sell T-Mobile. I guess it was a case of go-big or go-home. (The only other GSM carrier in the US is AT&T - and DT won't be buying that.)

I'm surprised that the cable coalition (Pivot, maybe) has not thrown the money in to buy Sprint. It would give them a wireless component, VoIP patents, and a voice termination network. It would also give cable a Top 10 IP network. I guess, cable is saving its pennies for that DOCSIS 3.0 upgrade that analysts expect to cost another $100B. (It cost about that to upgrade to DOCSIS 2).

VZW can't buy Sprint because even this crazy FCC and those fine folks at Anti-Trust would have a hard time right now passing that merger.

That leaves Alltel, a fellow CDMA carrier that went private last year. I doubt they could scrounge the money up.

My last guess would be McCraw. If anyone could raise the capital to buy Sprint, he could. But we all know that he would just be flipping it. Paint it. Plant some flowers. Then re-sell it. That wouldn't be good for the employees, the channel or the customers.

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