Sprint extends its wireless reach

By Michael Martin, Network World |  Networking

Sprint revealed last week that it has expanded its wireless multichannel multipoint distribution service coverage through agreements with other MMDS license holders.

With the agreements, Sprint says it can offer wireless voice, video and data services to 90 markets across the country.

Some of Sprint's most recent additions include arrangements with holders of spectrum for Instructional Television Fixed Service -- educators who were allocated spectrum in the MMDS auctions by the Federal Communications Commission.

Sprint is using MMDS to offer its Sprint Broadband Direct service in 14 markets. Broadband Direct is targeted at consumers and small businesses, offering download speeds ranging from 1M bit/sec to 1.5M bit/sec and upload speeds of about 250K bit/sec. Prices on the business offering, which includes multiple IP addresses, range from about $150 to $200.

Todd Rowley, vice president of spectrum management for Sprint, says the provider won't be adding more markets until it has decided on a vendor for its second-generation wireless equipment. The selection process should be finished this year, he says.

Second-generation broadband equipment operates without requiring line of sight to a transmission tower.

Robert Rosenberg, president of InSight Research, a telecommunications market research firm, says there are plenty of opportunities for larger players such as Sprint to add to their spectrum holdings.

"A number of the wireless companies, like Teligent and WinStar, are hanging by a thread, and the ones that will survive in this market are the ones with the deep pockets," he says.

Although wireless broadband may not be widespread, Rosenberg says it will catch on as an alternative when laying fiber or leasing a landline is too expensive."It's a relatively cheap way to get around the incumbent carrier," he notes.

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