Lucent lands billion-dollar Sprint deal

Cell phone provider Sprint PCS agrees to spend $1 billion on Lucent equipment to expand its U.S. network--the gear maker's biggest contract in two years.

Ben Charny
Ben Charny Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Ben Charny
covers Net telephony and the cellular industry.
Lucent Technologies has signed a $1 billion agreement to supply U.S. cell phone company Sprint PCS with network equipment.

Sprint PCS will use the telecommunications gear maker's Flexent CDMA Module Cell 4.0 base stations to increase coverage and voice calling capacity in major markets "from New York to California," Lucent said Tuesday. Lucent, based in Murray Hill, N.J., will also help install the hardware.

The contract, announced Tuesday, is the equipment provider's largest in two years. It last had a $1 billion equipment order, also from Sprint PCS, in January 2001, a Lucent representative said.

The deal comes in the midst of a three-year slump in sales at Lucent and other telecommunications equipment manufacturers, including Nortel Networks and Juniper Networks. The industry, which showed few signs of a turnaround in a flurry of earnings reports this week, has been waiting for carriers like Sprint to begin making large capital expenditures.

The base stations at the heart of Tuesday's deal create cell phone networks based on ever-faster versions of Qualcomm's Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). CDMA is the dominant cell phone standard in North and South America. The world's most popular cell phone standard is Global System for Mobile Communications, better known as GSM.