Palm Beach, Fla. - Sprint CEO Dan
Hesse didn't comment on reports that his company is considering a merger with
rival T-Mobile, but he did say Sprint foresees a long future with Clearwire,
from which the company buys 4G Mobile WiMAX airtime on a wholesale basis.
At a Deutsche Bank Media and
Telecom conference here, Hesse said Sprint is "very close" to resolving its
dispute with Clearwire over wholesale pricing and that "every option" that
Sprint has considered for its future "includes WiMAX and Clearwire." He also
said "all scenarios" under consideration "include a substantial amount of
However, he noted, Sprint hasn't
yet decided whether it will use WiMAX to expand to the two thirds of the
country not serviced by Clearwire's WiMAX network, or even if will use WiMAX to
expand Sprint's 4G capacity within existing WiMAX markets. Both Clearwire and
Sprint, he reiterated, have been considering LTE for those roles.
Whatever technology Clearwire
decides to use in the future for network expansion, Hesse noted, it would "make
sense" for Clearwire to use new cell sites planned by Sprint as the hosts for
Clearwire spectrum. When asked about the potential to host Lightsquared
spectrum in the planned cell sites, Hesse called it "technically quite feasible
to host other peoples' spectrum" but said Sprint also must consider the
potential loss of customers to a rival network to weigh the benefits.
Under Sprint's previously
announced plans to upgrade its network, the company plans to consolidate its
separate CDMA and iDEN cell sites beginning in the second half and phase out
iDEN service beginning in a few years.
By the middle of this year,
Sprint wants "as good a feel" as possible for the types of spectrum it might
host on its new cell sites to make its network rebuilding as economical as
possible, Hesse said, though the carrier could still decide what spectrum to
host after the buildout begins.
Hesse reiterated that Sprint will
unveil its future 4G strategy in the middle of the year.