Sprint Corp. announced Sunday it would sit out the upcoming 2016 airwaves auction, claiming its current holdings are "sufficient" for its ongoing network upgrade effort, Reuters reported. The company is the first U.S carrier to announce it will sit out the auction.
"Sprint's focus and overarching imperative must be on improving its network and market position in the immediate term so we can remain a powerful force in fostering competition," Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, said in a statement. "Sprint has the spectrum it needs to deploy its network architecture of the future."
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will auction off valuable 600 megahertz airwaves that can travel long distances and penetrate buildings to wireless carriers in March 2016. The government plans to buy airwaves from TV broadcasters that it will then resell to wireless carriers, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Instead of bidding on airwaves to make data connections more quickly for its customers, Sprint said in a statement it is in the process of starting another network overhaul that will sharply improve data speeds for its customers. Sprint garnered a swath of its higher frequency airwaves when it acquired wireless Internet provider Clearwire Corp. in 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Sprint’s decision not to participate in the auction gives T-Mobile US Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. better odds, but the auction will be a success only if carriers are willing to pay enough money to TV broadcasters to part with their airwaves, the Journal reported.
Sprint's announcement has raised fears among analysts the company may be headed in a downward spiral.
The carrier has not turned an annual profit since 2007, the Journal noted, and earlier this month, Moody’s downgraded its credit rating two notches, saying it lacked confidence in the company’s network overhaul plan.