Sprint ramps up Clearwire spectrum plans

31 Jul 2013

Sprint Corporation (formerly Sprint Nextel) has confirmed that it is now in a position to deploy Clearwire’s 2.5GHz spectrum on a nationwide basis as part of its planned Time Duplex Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) deployment. In an interview with Fierce Wireless, Sprint’s chief financial officer, Joe Euteneuer, indicated that Softbank’s recent USD21.6 billion acquisition – which included USD5 billion in new capital – not only allowed Sprint to buy Clearwire outright, but it also spurred Sprint on to shift its existing strategy. Sprint and Clearwire originally planned to deploy the latter’s valuable spectrum resources on around 5,000 cell sites, primarily as an ‘offload’ in data-hungry urban markets, but the spectrum is now likely to be put to much broader use. Euteneuer commented: ‘Now that we own 100% of Clearwire, with the help of Softbank, we said, how do we take full advantage of the 2.5GHz spectrum? The best way to do that is to have it fully integrated with the rest of your spectrum capabilities. And to do that you really need to put it on every tower’.

However, he noted that because of the weaker propagation characteristics of the 2.5GHz band, Sprint is likely to deploy small cells beyond the 38,000 ‘Network Vision’ sites that the company has previously mapped out. Although he was unable to confirm the company’s progress, Iyad Tarazi, head of network development and integration for Sprint, recently told CNET that Sprint will have 5,000 Clearwire sites on air by year-end. Clearwire possesses around 160MHz of spectrum in the top 100 US markets.