Sprint Won't Join 2016 Airwave Auction, Saying Network Is Ample

  • Chief executive calls for focus on improving market position
  • Fourth-biggest U.S. phone carrier coming off debt downgrade

Sprint Corp. said it won’t take part in a U.S. government airwaves auction, saying its spectrum holdings for current and future customers are “sufficient.”

The company, based in Overland Park, Kansas, said Saturday in a statement that it will bolster coverage within its existing network. The Federal Communications Commission plans next year to auction frequencies that travel far and penetrate buildings, and so are particularly well suited to meeting soaring demand from smartphones.

“Sprint’s focus and overarching imperative must be on improving its network and market position,” Chief Executive Officer Marcelo Claure said in the e-mailed statement. “Sprint has the spectrum it needs to deploy its network architecture of the future.”

Sprint is the first of the large mobile-phone companies to officially indicate it won’t participate in the auction. The fourth-biggest carrier has struggled through seven years of subscriber losses and eight years without profit. On Sept. 15, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded much of the company’s debt several steps to Caa1, which is considered close to default.

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