Sprint: Nonpartnering MSOs Fair Game

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Sprint Nextel Corp. chief operating officer Len Lauer, shedding a little more light on the recent deal between the wireless-telephone giant and four cable operators, said Sprint doesn’t expect to compete directly against its cable partners with its PowerVision high-speed-Internet service, but other MSO territories are fair game.

Lauer, speaking at the UBS Warburg LLC Global Communications conference in New York, said he saw the wireless-broadband service as more of a direct competitor to digital subscriber line offerings from telephone companies.

“Obviously where we have alliances with cable companies, I don’t think that we are going to work as much to compete directly against cable-modem service, but if MSOs don’t sign up with us, yeah, that’s a alternative we would have,” Lauer said.

Sprint’s cable partners are Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications Inc. and Advance-Newhouse Communications.

Sprint Nextel and the four MSOs have said they hope other cable operators like Cablevision Systems Corp. and Charter Communications Inc. join the group.

Lauer also clarified the part of the agreement regarding Sprint Nextel’s 2.5-gigahertz spectrum, which could be used for next-generation wireless high-speed-Internet service. Sprint Nextel did not surrender any rights to that spectrum, he said. Instead, when the company builds out the network -- expected in 2008 -- it will make services available on that network accessible to its cable partners.

“That’s our spectrum, we’re the ones who are going to fund that network,” Lauer said. “But at the same time, we’re very committed to our cable partners. I hope we have tremendous success over the next couple of years and it works well when we deploy in the 2.5-GHz spectrum. I hope it works well and we can also do that with the cable companies.”