Sprint Goes Wild!

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Here's a bit of a bombshell for Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) watchers. The company announced it will deploy LTE-Advanced wireless broadband technology by the first half of 2013. Sprint must have been saving this announcement for a time when it could have the most effect. Indeed, this news was tossed out by Iyad Tarazi, Sprint's vice president of network development and engineering, at a breakfast meeting for those attending the 4G World conference in Chicago.

But it was just earlier this month that Sprint announced it would be aggressive in rolling out its plain-old LTE network, that the first markets would become active by the middle of 2012, and that its LTE infrastructure would be completed by 2013. It said nothing at all about building an LTE-Advanced network.

What's happened between Oct. 7 and Oct. 24 that has given Sprint the ability to leapfrog over Verizon's (NYSE: VZ  ) and AT&T's (NYSE: T  ) LTE networks? Isn't Sprint the company that got itself caught between Clearwire's (Nasdaq: CLWR  ) slower WiMAX 4G technology and the controversial (and so far nonexistent) LTE network of LightSquared?

For the curious, the potential speed differences offered by the 4G technologies of LTE and LTE-Advanced are significant. LTE promises maximum downlink speeds of 100 Mbps and uplink speeds of 50 Mbps. LTE-Advanced promises max downlink speeds of 1 Gbs and max uplink speeds of 500 Mbps. LTE-Advanced is so advanced that it was only this summer that Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC  ) was able to demonstrate that it could even work in a mobile environment.

Sprint certainly has gotten the short end of the stick lately. After watching AT&T throw its bigfoot $39 billion at Deutsche Telekom to acquire its T-Mobile USA division -- which would have the potential to really throw a wrench in Sprint's works -- Sprint just seems to keep stepping in it.

So is this announcement for real, or is it just a ploy to inject some optimism into Sprint's downtrodden investors? Has Sprint had this high-tech rabbit in its hat the whole time, or is it a Hail Mary pass hoping to catch its competitors off guard? Tell me what you think in the comments section below.

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Fool contributor Dan Radovsky owns shares of AT&T. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of AT&T. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (6) | Recommend This Article (4)

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  • Report this Comment On October 25, 2011, at 4:20 PM, jhf678 wrote:

    It is a one billion question. Nobody will know until tomorrow. I am just hoping that they are doing fine. We just don`t want to have just two phone carriers in America.

  • Report this Comment On October 25, 2011, at 6:22 PM, edward66 wrote:

    Does this mean up for Sprint? I would think so but in this volatile and fickle market who knows? any one have a guess. If I had to say I would say up.

  • Report this Comment On October 25, 2011, at 7:49 PM, conradsands wrote:

    Consumers are finally noticing that AT&T and Verizon = The Most Expensive Wireless Plans in America. We know where Verizon and AT&T (both in the top 5 for corporate lobbying) get all that money to run commercials 24x7, pay out huge “fat cat” executive bonuses and hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists to push the U.S. market into a wireless industry duopoly -- the American consumer.

    Taking into account the whole U.S. market, a combination of AT&T and T-Mobile would increase the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI), a widely accepted measure of market concentration, to 3,216 from 2,848, according to a Bloomberg analysis. Any score above 2,500 indicates a highly concentrated market, and any increase of more than 200 points clearly enhances market power, according to federal guidelines.

    If this ridiculous deal goes through, Sprint will be the only low-priced post-paid national wireless carrier left in the United States. T-Mobile customers are already fleeing to Sprint because they know they won’t get low prices from AT&T or Verizon. But AT&T and Verizon are two of the top corporate lobbyists in the country, so beware of how things could “mysteriously” turn in this case.

    “It’s only a slight overstatement to say that if they weren’t going to block this one, the Justice Department might as well just throw the antitrust guidelines out the window,” said Herbert Hovenkamp, professor of law at the University of Iowa, who is considered by many to be the dean of American antitrust law. “This merger clearly seems to violate them.”

  • Report this Comment On October 25, 2011, at 7:49 PM, conradsands wrote:

    Sprint is the only U.S. carrier to offer new and existing customers the iPhone experience with unlimited data plans starting at $79.99 per month. Sprint has been recognized as a J.D. Power 2011 Customer Service Champion — one of only 40 companies to have earned this distinction this year. To qualify for inclusion on this elite list, the companies must not only excel within their own industry, but also stand out among leading brands in 12 major industries evaluated by J.D. Power and Associates.

  • Report this Comment On October 25, 2011, at 7:49 PM, conradsands wrote:

    AT&T’s Dirty Money at Work …

    Snippets from CNN story …

    AT&T lobbyists push for T-Mobile deal

    For years, AT&T has been one of the biggest political and lobbying forces in Washington, D.C. Last year, it spent $15.3 million and had 93 lobbyists on its roster, including six former lawmakers. Germany's Deutsche Telekom spent $3 million on lobbying for T-Mobile USA in 2010, armed with 41 lobbyists and one former lawmaker.

    Many lawmakers have a personal interest in seeing AT&T do well. AT&T ranked as the sixth most popular investment among members of the House and Senate in 2009, the most recent year for which such data is available, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    And AT&T is considered a heavy hitter during campaign election cycles. In 2010, donors with links to the company made nearly $4 million in campaign contributions to candidates running for federal office.

  • Report this Comment On October 25, 2011, at 10:03 PM, amaradio wrote:

    Sprint will hit $4.50 by December. The company is extremely undervalued and has not only come from behind on competitors but exceeded them. Getting the iPhone was the beginning for Sprint. Tomorrow, after their earnings report, we'll have a better idea of how high they are heading. I just know they are going up, up and up.

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