Sprint Corporation (S) announced its collaboration with NetAmerica Alliance, LLC to form a shared network alliance to offer 4G LTE mobile broadband to members of the latter involved in rural communications service. We believe the partnership will allow Sprint to reach new markets and penetrate into underserved rural areas, implying a significant financial opportunity.
The project know as SMART (Small Market Alliance for Rural Transformation), will provide NetAmerica member carriers with access to 800 MHz and 1900 MHz spectrum of Sprint and access to the Sprint device ecosystem. The deployment of SMART solution will begin in late 2014. Sprint believes that the new partnership will not only help rural markets but will also provide a competitive advantage. Management also stated that the new agreement serves it the purpose of a faster, nationwide network and cost effective services.
We believe the agreement with NetAmerica is also part of Sprint’s multi-billion dollar restructuring program known as Network Vision. Sprint expects the Network Vision deployment to be over by mid 2014. Through this plan, the company is concentrating on the core Sprint platform, which includes CDMA, WiMAX and LTE technologies. As part of the Network Vision strategy, Sprint launched 4G LTE in 340 markets, covering more than 200 million, and expects to cover approximately 250 million LTE POPs by the second half of 2014. In terms of 3G infrastructure, the company expects to see a 25% increase in 3G data speeds with new equipment and enhanced backhaul.
Sprint currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Better-ranked stocks in this sector include Shenandoah Telecommunications Co. (SHEN), Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) and Level 3 Communications, Inc. (LVLT). While Shenandoah and Nippon boast a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Level 3 Communications carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).