US round-up: Sprint open to selling wireline assets; DISH in pole position to snag LightSquared; Verizon, AT&T agree VoLTE interoperability

5 Nov 2014

Marcelo Claure, the new CEO of Sprint Corp, has confirmed rumours that the US telco is considering its options regarding the future of its struggling wireline unit. Speaking during a conference call, Claure said: ‘We are undergoing a pretty deep review of wireline and … we are going to come out in the next few months and give you a latest status update on what exactly we are going to do with the wireline business.’ Further, according to the transcript, via Seeking Alpha, Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer added: ‘So we are open – our door is always open to talk to someone in regards to that asset. And although … it does take some work to separate it et cetera, it is something that we are open to discuss.’ Potential suitors have been named by the media as CenturyLink and Windstream, although there is an outside chance that Level 3 Communications could move for the assets.

In unrelated news, Sprint has extended its tri-band Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, branded ‘Sprint Spark’, to 17 new markets, including Cleveland, Columbus, Denver, Sacramento and Seattle. The deployment means that Sprint Spark is now available in 46 markets across the country, and the cellco is on target to cover 100 million people by year-end. The network is capable of delivering peak speeds of 60Mbps, via the aggregation of Frequency Division Duplex LTE (FDD-LTE) 800MHz spectrum, 2500MHz Time Division Duplex (TDD)-LTE frequencies and 1900MHz spectrum.

US satellite TV giant DISH Network stands to gain control of 60% of failed open-access wireless provider LightSquared under a new plan to bring the firm out of bankruptcy, Reuters reports. However, Harbinger Capital Partners, the Phil Falcone-backed hedge fund that controls LightSquared, continues to fight DISH boss Charlie Ergen to retain control of selected spectrum assets. The new plan, which was approved at a hearing in US Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, has the backing of all of LightSquared’s stakeholders except Harbinger and will not break up the company. For his part, Ergen will provide USD1 billion of a USD2.2 billion post-bankruptcy junior loan.

Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility are working to ensure that voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) calls made by customers using the carriers’ respective networks can interconnect with one another. According to a Verizon blog post, engineers from both companies are working through a full set of requirements, starting with extensive lab testing and then moving on to field trials. The cellular duo hopes to enable VoLTE-to-VoLTE connections in 2015.

And finally, Tismi Wireless, which operates as a full mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in the UK and the Netherlands, intends to launch a new US MVNO piggybacking on Sprint’s network. The agreement, which will include access to the cellco’s 3G and 4G networks, will target citizens originating from the Balkans.