Sprint today announced 12 new LTE roaming agreements with smaller rural and regional carriers covering 34 million people. Along with a previously announced network agreement extension with nTelos, Sprint also inked LTE roaming deals with SouthernLINC, C Spire Wireless, Flat Wireless and eight other carriers.
The new agreements put into action a team effort that Sprint, CCA and NetAmerica announced in March. The initiative gives smaller carriers’ customers access to Sprint’s LTE network while also effectively expanding Sprint’s LTE footprint by allowing Sprint customers to roam freely on the LTE networks of partner carriers.
“It will look like a ubiquitous network vision,” Sprint CTO Stephen Bye said in March during the initial announcement.
This marks a step toward that ubiquity. Some of the carriers involved have already deployed LTE or outlined their plans for LTE, like SouthernLINC, that plans to substantially finish its LTE network by 2018.
Sprint will be helping along the LTE aspirations of the carriers signed on to the agreement by providing access to its spectrum and by establishing Band 12 support in its headsets as soon as early 2015. Device support for Band 12 should help incentivize carriers with spectrum licenses in the lower 700 MHz block to deploy LTE.
The Rural Roaming Preferred Program works alongside Sprint’s and NetAmerica’s Small Market Alliance for Rural Transformation (SMART) initiative aimed at helping smaller carriers expand coverage and service offerings.