Who is Sprint’s preferred network sharing partner?

Posted in Financials, LightSquared, Operators, Spectrum at 8:20 am by timfarrar

I remarked last month that it was strange for Sprint to note (at the New America Foundation/LightSquared event on May 12) that it would be able to host other spectrum on its Network Vision platform, including “possibly Clearwire, possibly public safety”, while conspicuously failing to include LightSquared on that list. Perhaps that is because (as a contact insisted to me yesterday), Sprint wanted first lien rights to LightSquared’s spectrum, not the second lien rights that it was ultimately granted.

However, it also seems the probability is rising that a national public safety network will soon be built out in the D-block, after yesterday’s White House event to push a combined incentive auction/public safety bill. As a result, I have to wonder if some of Sprint’s apparent indecision about network sharing with either Clearwire or LightSquared is prompted by the possibility that a network sharing customer who is unlikely to go bankrupt might emerge, in the shape of this national public safety network.

Indeed the purported $2B per year LightSquared agreement could easily provide a template for such a rollout (albeit probably without Sprint being able to use capacity on the public safety network). In particular, the spreading of costs that is part of that agreement might help to reduce concerns in the public safety community about the buildout potentially being delayed, if incentive auction-based funding is not available for several years.

Thus, if signs do now emerge that the government may offer to assist in defraying some of Sprint’s Network Vision buildout costs, both Clearwire and LightSquared might be left to ponder the truth of the statement that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.


  1. spectrum said,

    June 17, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Does it mean that Sprint would not go with Network Sharing with Lightsquare and Harbinger have no choice left here….
    What are the chances that Harbinger will bid for TSN spectrum…

  2. sandy_s157 said,

    June 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Hi Tim,

    It seems that lightsquare reached network sharing deal with Sprint. What does it mean for lightsquare bidding for Terrestar? Also what about the GPS issues? What if FCC does not approve of L-band spectrum? In that case, what happens to Sprint? Do you think Harbinger still sees value in bidding for Terrestar Spectrum?


  3. TMF Associates MSS blog » Sprint’s D-block ambitions said,

    November 22, 2011 at 10:32 am

    [...] via a network sharing agreement based on the terms agreed with LightSquared. I highlighted back in June that it was strange of Sprint to mention hosting public safety (but not LightSquared) at the May 12 [...]

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