Sprint eyes Google Fiber tie-up

11 October 2012 | Kavit Majithia


Sprint has confirmed to Capacity it has held talks with Kansas City-based Google Fiber regarding a future tie-up.

The US carrier is looking to gain access to the company’s extensive fibre links in the US city and ramp up backhaul for its LTE roll-out in its headquartering city.

Google Fiber launched its project in the US city in late July, and Kansas-based Sprint has looked at the project with great interest as it attempts to compete with US giants Verizon and AT&T in the lucrative LTE and broadband markets.

Google’s offering, which provides 1Gbps fibre speeds, claims to be 10 times faster than the average available in the US, and has been seen by many market analysts as a direct play into the telecommunications infrastructure space.

Sprint, the third largest operator in the US, rolled out its LTE offering in six markets initially, including Kansas. The company told Capacity it believes there are great synergies between Google and Sprint in the city to strike a deal in the near future.

Bob Azzi, vice president of networks at Sprint said it had talked to Google’s network executives and discussions are continuing to secure the internet giant as a backhaul partner for the operator.

“This could certainly be a future capability,” Azzi told Capacity. “Unfortunately, their fibre deployment at this point was not going to be available in the timelines we required but we are watching what they do, and how they are doing things.”

When Google first announced its plans to build its fibre project in Kansas, the market was awash with claims that the play was a direct attack on Sprint’s broadband initiatives in its core domestic market.

However, Azzi’s latest comments have gone some way to quashing the idea of any rivalry between the two players. “Although we will not use them as part of our initial deployment in backhaul, we are continuously looking at ways we can partner with Google Fiber.”

Sprint confirmed to the market last month of its intentions to grow its LTE offering substantially, with plans to roll out the service to 100 US markets before the end of the year.

The company will also be boosted by the progress of its retail business. At the end of September, Sprint claimed to have one sold one million LTE devices.

Market watchers suggest that the company is making up for its late entrance into the LTE market by aggressively promoting its unlimited plans.

Both AT&T and Verizon have distanced themselves from unlimited plans, leaving Sprint as the only national carrier to offer truly unlimited plans.