OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), June 16, 2014 – Sprint (NYSE: S) today announced that it has reached 4G LTE agreements with 12 rural and regional network carriers, giving smaller carriers a clear path forward to high speed mobile broadband solutions. Furthering the initiatives announced in March by Sprint, Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) and the NetAmerica Alliance, these agreements seek to increase wireless competition by providing the carriers – and their customers – low-cost access to Sprint’s nationwide 4G LTE network and an opportunity to pursue an expanded range of mobile devices. These agreements also help accelerate the deployment and utilization of 4G LTE across America where the cost of building such networks and the roaming costs are often prohibitively expensive.
Along with Sprint’s previously announced amended agreement with nTelos to extend their Strategic Network Alliance through 2022, the Rural Roaming Preferred Program – which was developed in conjunction with CCA – now extends coverage to 23 states, over 352,000 thousand square miles and a population of over 34 million people. Today’s announcement highlights agreements with 12 new carriers:
- SouthernLINC Wireless, covering 127,000 square miles and 18 million people in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida
- nTelos, covering 66,000 square miles and 6.1 million people in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky (previously announced)
- C Spire Wireless, covering over 61,700 square miles and approximately 5.5 million people in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Tennessee
- Nex-Tech Wireless, covering 35,000 square miles and 286,000 people in Kansas and Colorado
- Flat Wireless, covering over 29,000 square miles and 2.1 million people in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona
- SI Wireless dba MobileNation, covering 10,000 square miles and 830,000 people in Tennessee and Kentucky
- Inland Cellular, covering 9,000 square miles and 297,000 people in Idaho and Washington
- Illinois Valley Cellular, covering 5,500 square miles and 250,000 people in Illinois
- Carolina West Wireless, covering 3,100 square miles and 585,500 people in North Carolina
- James Valley Telecommunications, covering 4,000 square miles and 45,000 people in South Dakota
- VTel Wireless, covering 791 square miles and 60,450 people in Vermont
- Phoenix Wireless, covering 800 square miles and 17,000 people in Maine
“These agreements demonstrate Sprint’s commitment to provide better coverage, a faster network and a wider selection of lower-cost wireless devices to all customers, regardless of where they live,” said Michael C. Schwartz, Sprint senior vice president of Corporate and Business Development. “Through unique and flexible deals with carriers like C Spire and nTelos we are providing an enhanced 4G LTE experience for Sprint customers and increasing wireless choice and competition across rural America.”
In addition to reducing roaming costs for carriers and improving competition, the Rural Roaming Preferred Program works to broaden Sprint’s coverage footprint by giving its customers the ability to roam on regional and rural carriers’ networks. As part of the program, Sprint is also working with CCA and rural carriers to pursue participation in the Sprint device and infrastructure ecosystem to help them reduce network build costs and gain earlier access to the latest devices at lower prices through increased scale.
CCA’s President & CEO Steven K. Berry said, “Sprint’s commitment to creating an open ecosystem provides smaller rural and regional carriers with a clear pathway to 4G LTE technologies and devices they need to remain competitive. Consumers can benefit from faster speeds and access to the device of their choosing as a result of these agreements. By working together through the CCA Rural Roaming Preferred Program or the NetAmerica Alliance program, we are seeking an open ecosystem in which all CCA members can thrive. Every carrier should look to take advantage of this significant opportunity that not only provides a roadmap to 4G, but allows them to remain independent and competitive in the wireless ecosystem. I am delighted so many CCA members are participating in the program and encourage every rural and regional carrier to consider participating.”
These agreements complement the Small Market Alliance for Rural Transformation (SMART) initiative previously announced by Sprint and the NetAmerica Alliance, which provides participating rural communications service providers the capabilities they need to compete and thrive in delivering 4G LTE mobile broadband services to their communities. Since March, NetAmerica has seen a strong response from rural service providers who are interested in using the SMART program to build an extended network and offer devices that deliver their customers a top-tier experience. To date, Net America completed preliminary agreements with 14 companies and has engaged in discussions with approximately 40 additional companies in more than a dozen states.
“SMART is a game changer that radically alters the competitive landscape for rural independent service providers, enabling them to remain relevant, vital and profitable in spite of the threat of competition from the two large carriers. The response to SMART has been overwhelming and we are rapidly moving interested parties through an aggressive but thorough process of matching their business objectives to the opportunity presented by SMART,” stated Roger Hutton, NetAmerica CEO & Chairman.