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Sprint CEO: We can partner with companies to use their spectrum

The Sprint executive team fielded a lot of questions about its network deployment plan, as it struggles to catch up with the competition.


Sprint potentially could look for partners to augment its wireless network.

That's according to Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, who spoke on a conference call with analysts on Wednesday. Hesse was fielding a question about the search for additional spectrum, the radio airwaves necessary to carry cellular traffic.

Hesse touted the company's position, which has a Frankenstein-like combination of different spectrum, including its core Sprint spectrum and airwaves gleaned from the now-defunct Nextel network and recently acquired Clearwire. While the spectrum is different, Sprint's upgraded network would be better able to juggle all of them, he said.

Hesse, however, added that for additional capacity, Sprint could partner with another owner of spectrum to deploy it on its network. Sprint's Network Vision upgrade program is installing a network infrastructure that's able to handle multiple bands. He didn't mention any companies, but one candidate is Dish Network, which has acquired a large swath of spectrum from bankruptcy proceedings.

Dish, of course, launched a failed attempt to buy Sprint after the carrier had agreed to Softbank's offer.

Hesse said he also would look at spectrum auctions as they come up.

Analysts bombarded the Sprint executive with questions about its network upgrade plans. The company, distracted by the takeover of Clearwire and its deal with Japanese carrier SoftBank, has fallen behind and now lags even T-Mobile with its LTE deployment.

Sprint earlier reported a net loss of 313,000 customers, including an even bigger loss of 360,000 contract customers. Hesse warned that the losses would continue into the fourth quarter as it continues to feel the effects of the Nextel network shutdown.

The implementation of Clearwire's spectrum, which runs at the 2.5GHz frequency, should boost peak speeds to 50 to 60 megabits per second, according Steve Elfman, head of network and operations for Sprint.