Last updated: May 19, 2011 - 8:43am
[Commentary] The AT&T/T-Mobile merger has absolutely no impact on the issue of special access/wireless backhaul. But despite that, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse brought it up anyway as an issue in this merger saying: “Two companies would control most of our nation’s wire line infrastructure and the critical last mile that Sprint and the rest of the industry need [my emphasis] to provide affordable rates and quality service.” And that special access “is a huge piece of our cost structure and the cost structure of all wireless carriers.” He further went on to say that, “What we pay roughly – if you will, 30 percent of the cost of putting in a new cell site goes back to a local landline carrier in the form of payments for special access and those payments are very, very high.”
The last time I checked, neither AT&T nor Verizon was providing a microwave backhaul service. In fact, it was only a couple of weeks ago that Verizon announced that it was using Level 3 for backhaul solutions that utilized microwave technology. So, I assume that the Sprint family of companies was able to acquire those broadband backhaul services without dealing with either Verizon or AT&T. And I also have to conclude that if Clearwire has alternative backhaul suppliers to towers that it shares with Sprint, Sprint must have at least those same alternatives too. Given all of these facts, I am having trouble squaring Hesse’s backhaul statements with the genuine marketplace reality…at least according to the folks that work for him and Sprint’s interests in these areas.