More reports on: Telecom

Sprint not to participate in auction of wireless airwaves

28 September 2015

The fourth-largest wireless network operator in the US, Sprint Corp said it would not participate in an auction of wireless airwaves, a decision that would save the carrier billions of dollars but could deprive its network of upgrades in the future.

The Federal Communications Commission had scheduled a major auction for March 2016 and the US government planned to buy airwaves from TV broadcasters to resell to wireless carriers.

Sprint added on Saturday that its airwaves currently were "sufficient to provide its current and future customers great network coverage." The US wireless carrier would commence on another major network overhaul it said would sharply improve data speeds.

The airwaves to be auctioned are of premium quality being of lower frequencies, which travelled farther and penetrated buildings better than airwaves at higher frequencies, meaning carriers could cover larger areas using fewer cell towers.

The airwaves were necessary to meet exploding consumer demand to stream videos and browse the web on smartphones.

According to an FCC official, the agency was not surprised Sprint decided to keep away given the public hints it had made in the past few months.

The official pointed out that the last two major auctions were a success even though Sprint had not participated.

Sprint Corp said on Saturday it had adequate airwaves to currently build out its network and for its future needs.

Acting on recent claims from wireless carriers aiming for faster speed for data-guzzling customers, the FCC had scheduled a major auction for March 2016 where the US government planned to buy airwaves from TV broadcasters and resell them to wireless carriers.

Sprint served 57.7 million customers according to August 2015 data.

Sprint was to commence on another major network overhaul aimed at sharply improving data speeds.

Reuters reported that Sprint was currently focusing on improving its network and market position in the immediate term.

Sprint is trying to lure DirecTV customers with one free year of cellphone service in a bold move aimed at the satellite TV company's new owner, AT&T. (See: Sprint targets DirecTV customers with free year of cellphone service)

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