OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), March 27, 2014 – Sprint (NYSE: S) today announced that it has developed a program with CCA (Competitive Carriers Association) and reached an agreement with the NetAmerica Alliance to accelerate the deployment and utilization of 4G LTE across rural America and allow carriers in those regions low-cost access to Sprint’s nationwide network and the ability to purchase a wider range of devices.
The CCA program and NetAmerica Alliance agreement will foster the continued deployment of 4G LTE coverage throughout underserved American communities, where the cost of building such networks and the roaming costs are often prohibitively expensive. The programs announced today will foster a competitive 4G LTE wireless ecosystem — reducing roaming costs for carriers and improving competition, while expanding Sprint’s coverage by giving its customers the ability to roam on regional and rural carriers’ networks.
“Every American, regardless of where they live or work, should have access to high-speed mobile broadband,” said Masayoshi Son, Sprint chairman. “The programs developed by Sprint, CCA and the NetAmerica Alliance are a strong first step to improving availability of LTE service and providing greater device choice for Americans in rural areas. They are also a clear demonstration of Sprint’s long-term commitment to bring real competition to the wireless industry.”
In a keynote address to be delivered later this morning at the CCA Global Expo, Son plans to invite members of both CCA and NetAmerica to join with Sprint in accelerating their plans for deploying 4G LTE to the communities they serve. Through these programs, CCA carriers and NetAmerica Alliance Members are positioned to more efficiently and quickly deploy and support their owned and operated 4G LTE networks. In turn, Sprint’s customers will be able to roam on the 4G LTE networks being built by CCA and NetAmerica Alliance Members across the country. To facilitate roaming between these networks, beginning in January 2015, Sprint plans to offer 4G LTE devices that will include a chipset allowing the devices to roam on the lower 700MHz spectrum primarily in use by CCA and NetAmerica Alliance Members.
“Working together we can offer a faster network, better devices and a better customer experience,” Son said. “I am confident we can take on the duopoly of Verizon and AT&T, which currently are the only 4G LTE carriers in many parts of the U.S.”
“Our programs with CCA and NetAmerica are a significant step forward for Sprint, for rural carriers throughout the U.S. and, most importantly, for rural customers who deserve a more competitive marketplace that offers greater access to high-speed mobile broadband service,” said Stephen Bye, chief technology officer at Sprint. “We are very pleased to be working alongside rural carriers to provide customers faster networks, better coverage and access to a wider range of handsets.”
Regional carriers and small operators in many markets are challenged to provide strong mobile broadband coverage and service because of the expense of building new 4G LTE networks, the lack of affordable nationwide 4G LTE roaming, and the inability to obtain a broad portfolio of cost-effective and popular devices consumers demand. Sprint, CCA and NetAmerica are launching these programs to resolve these competitive challenges.
Under the program that establishes Sprint’s Rural Roaming Preferred Provider Program with CCA:
- CCA members will leverage the CCA-developed central data hub as a clearinghouse for participating CCA members to complete simple, commercially sustainable, individually negotiated, reciprocal roaming agreements with Sprint.
- CCA members and Sprint will work together to align on technology evolution.
- Sprint will work with CCA to create a device ecosystem that provides participating carriers greater access to new devices at reasonable costs.
“I am delighted that CCA has joined forces with Sprint and NetAmerica Alliance to create a competitive ecosystem in which all competitive carriers can thrive,” said Steven K. Berry, President & CEO of CCA. “Today’s announcement is not only a new collective way of thinking for wireless operators, but it is also an exciting, real solution for smaller carriers to get to 4G LTE and get access to the latest devices. For over three years, CCA has been pursuing competitive opportunities for carriers on both the policy and business fronts, and this is proof positive that we are making great strides. Sprint is thinking outside the box to promote competition – partnering and working with smaller carriers to create a robust nationwide network, and this provides a necessary opportunity for every carrier who wants to remain independent, while providing a national network for their customers.”
Under the agreement with NetAmerica and its Small Market Alliance for Rural Transformation (SMART) program:
- NetAmerica Alliance Members will be able to access the Sprint network, have immediate access to select Sprint devices, and use Sprint’s spectrum.
- NetAmerica will provide Members with assistance in planning, building and operating their LTE networks in partnership with Sprint.
- In return, Sprint customers will have access to NetAmerica Alliance Members’ 4G LTE networks, which is expected to vastly improve Sprint’s services for its own customers nationwide.
“This is a landmark day for the rural carrier market and for the rural consumer,” said Roger Hutton, Chairman and CEO of NetAmerica. “Through the Sprint and NetAmerica shared network alliance, we are providing the 4G LTE mobile solution rural carriers so desperately need to compete and we are delivering on our promise to let rural consumers live and work where they choose without compromise.”
Son’s address at the CCA Global Expo is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. CDT and can be watched live here.
Sprint (NYSE: S) offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint served more than 55 million customers at the end of 2013 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. The American Customer Satisfaction Index rated Sprint as the most improved company in customer satisfaction, across all 47 industries, during the last five years. Sprint has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) North America in 2011, 2012 and 2013. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.
About the Competitive Carriers Association
CCA is the nation’s leading association for competitive wireless providers and stakeholders across the United States. The licensed service area of CCA’s more than 100 carriers covers 95 percent of the nation. Visit www.competitivecarriers.org.
About the NetAmerica Alliance
The NetAmerica Alliance is a democratic, peer-to-peer union of independent Communication Service Providers (CSPs) joining forces to secure the future of rural America. Through the programs, services, capabilities and investment in infrastructure with which the Alliance arms its Members, and the manner in which they work for their individual and collective success, NetAmerica helps to mitigate business and technology risk to yield successful and profitable deployment of 4G LTE service. The Alliance believes in rural America and in the virtues of independence, community, and family. We also believe that irrespective of geography, every individual should have access to modern communications services that maintain those valuable connections. For more information, visit: www.NetAmericaAlliance.com.