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Sprint Exec: “We Could Use Some More Low-Band Spectrum”

Thu, 09/26/2013 - 10:44am
Ben Munson

As Sprint is nearing the finish line with its LTE buildout on its 1900 MHz PCS spectrum, it’s setting its sights on some more beachfront property. 

“We could use some more lower-band spectrum,” Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer said at Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in response to questions about mergers and the FCC’s upcoming spectrum auctions.

In merger terms, Euteneuer coyly referenced thoughts of a Sprint and T-Mobile combination, calling it “highly debated” but admitting, from a macro perspective, that three comparable size players would definitely boost competition.

On the auction front, Euteneuer said Sprint is gauging its interest in both the H Block auction scheduled for January and the broadcast incentive auction further out. But he seemed to put the most emphasis on meaningful participation in the incentive auctions and grabbing the low-band spectrum they’re putting up for bids.

In terms of boosting capacity, Euteneuer didn’t rule out network sharing as an option. He pointed to Sprint’s multi-modal deployment and previous agreement with Lightsquared as examples of the carrier’s openness.

But Sprint’s first and foremost push to boost capacity came from closing the Clearwire deal. Euteneuer said Sprint is in the process of bidding out the rest of the 2.5 GHz build, leveraging cost advantages of the new combined company with SoftBank.

Euteneuer was still confident that Sprint would finish LTE deployment in the 1900 MHz band by mid-2014 and have 200 million LTE POPs by year’s end. He added that LTE will begin to take hold in 2.5 GHz and 800 MHz starting at beginning of 2014.

In staying competitive with the other carriers, Euteneuer said Sprint likes its current unlimited plans as a differentiator and that it will “keep looking at creative offers.” He seemed confident that having the 2.5 GHz gives Sprint a longer runway for unlimited.

Speaking out about Sprint’s newly announced One Up early upgrade program, Euteneuer called it not as aggressive as T-Mobile’s Jump! but not as conservative at AT&T’s Next and Verizon’s Edge.

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