Sprint announced Friday that it has reached 4G LTE agreements with 15 additional rural and regional network carriers as part of the Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program it announced with Competitive Carriers Association earlier this year. The program gives smaller carriers a “clear path forward to high speed mobile broadband solutions” by providing the carriers low-cost access to Sprint’s “nationwide 4G LTE network” and an opportunity to access an “expanded range” of mobile devices.
Including the new agreements, the program now includes 27 carriers, extending coverage in 27 states, over 565,000 square miles and a population of 38 million people. The 15 carriers joining the program are:
- Bluegrass Cellular, serving Kentucky
- Blue Wireless, serving New York and Pennsylvania
- Pine Belt Wireless, serving Alabama
- Pioneer Cellular, serving Oklahoma and Kansas
- Public Service Wireless, serving Alabama and Georgia
- Syringa Wireless, serving Idaho
- STRATA Networks, serving Utah, Wyoming and Colorado
- Silver Star Wireless, serving Wyoming and Idaho
- All West Wireless, serving Wyoming and Utah
- NNTC, serving Colorado
- Snake River Personal Communications Service, serving Oregon
- CTC Telecom, serving Idaho
- South Central Communications, serving Utah
- Custer Telephone Wireless, serving Idaho
- Breakaway Wireless, serving Utah
These agreements increase wireless competion by accerating the deployment and utilization of 4G LTE across the U.S. where the cost of building such networks and the roaming costs are often “prohibitively expensive.” In addition to reducing roaming costs for carriers and improving competition, the Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program broadens Sprint’s coverage footprint by giving its customers the ability to roam on participating carriers’ networks.
Michael Schwartz, Sprint’s senior vice president of Corporate and Business Development:
“In just a few short months, Sprint has made significant progress by signing agreements covering 27 regional carriers that serve millions of people across the country. By working together, we will bring mobile broadband and better wireless devices to underserved communities while expanding 4G LTE coverage for Sprint customers.”
CCA Device Hub
As part of the program, Sprint is working with CCA, Brightstar Corporation and carriers to support a device ecosystem in which carriers may pursue access to a “broad portfolio” of 4G LTE Devices. This can lower costs, improve time to market and expand the portfolio of devcies available to regional carriers. Beginning next year, Sprint will make devices “more compatible” with regional carriers’ networks by adding support for additional spectrum bands including the AWS and lower 700MHz spectrum that are used by CCA member carriers. Sprint will also support device changes that allow regional carriers to provision, manage and brand devices independently through CCA’s Device Hub. Participating carriers will be able to work directly with Brightstar, which will be the exclusive distributor for device access and distribution.
CCA Roaming Hub
In addition, Sprint is collaborating with CCA on the Data Access Hub that serves a “clearinghouse” for participating members to complete “simple, commercialy-sustainable and individually-negotiated” reciprocal roaming agreements with CCA meember operators. The CCA Data Access Hub expands collaboration opportunities among carriers, eases roaming implementation acrsos carriers and makes it easier and less costly to expand 4G LTE coverage.
Steven Berry, CCA President and CEO:
“I am very pleased Sprint has signed agreements with 15 additional carriers and is committed to working with smaller rural and regional carriers. Competitive carriers must have a pathway to 4G LTE technologies, and Sprint’s solution will help them achieve this critical goal. I encourage every CCA member to look at Sprint’s program, and I look forward to our continued work with Sprint on CCA’s Data Access Hub and Device Hub, which will bring numerous additional benefits to competitive carriers and their consumers. This innovative approach will allow small carriers to remain vibrant, independent competitors in the marketplace.”
The NetAmerica Alliance and Sprint continue their aggresive mawrch toward delivering Small Market Alliance for Rural Transformation (SMART) to rural carriers. This previously announced initiative is a shared network alliance which provides participating rural carriers the capabilities the ned to built and run 4G LTE mobile networks and to compete in the delivery of 4G LTE mobile broadband services to their communities.
Roger Hutton, NetAmerica Chairman and CEO:
“SMART has been aggressively embraced by rural carriers looking to build networks, expand their reach and deliver on the promise of 4G LTE mobile broadband. Since announcing the initiative, we have signed preliminary agreements with approximately 20 carriers interested in building out over 300,000 square miles of network. In addition we continue to work with dozens of other carriers in multiple states to match their specific business expansion goals to the SMART program.”