Verizon Challenges Sprint for Homeland Security Network

Over the past month, Verizon has detailed in private their plans to pitch the federal government on a Homeland Security national network. Read more to see what it is, and how it stacks up to the competition.

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Verizon wishes to use the 700 MHz band to deliver a national, public sector network. Presumably, this network would be deployed using CDMA with enhanced encryption provided by Qualcomm. This network is almost to-spec of a secured public-sector CDMA network envisioned (and demonstrated) by Qualcomm for years. PCS Intel has had access to these handsets, however, we have not reported on them previously due to the lack of a market for them.

While PCS Intel has reported previously on Sprint’s Homeland Security network, it is deployed using both private and public networks. Sprint has proposed transacting the iDEN network on an unlimited lease to the federal government. In addition, Sprint will guarantee priority access to their national WiMAX network. Sprint expects their WiMAX network to launch in 2008, around the same time that the federal government expects to begin deployment with their selected partner.

Meanwhile, Verizon has not stated any plans to deploy a 4G overlay of their network. Sources say that Verizon will commit to access in some form, however, details are sketchy considering Verizon has not apparently committed to such a network.

Both Sprint and Verizon clearly view this battle as high-stakes. Sprint, as we first disclosed, has been dealing with key leaders in all sectors of the federal government to promote their solution. Verizon however has made their pitch to first responder organization, as well as minority leaders in the House and Senate. Verizon appears to be taking a tactic of gaining support in numbers of groups and organizations, rather than Sprint’s top-down approach of gaining support with the key leaders in national infrastructure.

Politics here comes into play, as the mid-term elections of November may tip the scales. Sprint clearly has the support of the Republican-led federal government. However, with mid-term elections potentially giving at least one house of Congress to Democrats, neither Sprint nor Verizon can be declared a winner in this fight any time soon.

Adding to the high stakes are estimates that such a Homeland Security network would result in major new adds for either carrier. While the numbers are difficult to calculate, considering various factors of deployment, such a contract could easily place Verizon at the number-one position based on subscribers (putting it ahead of Cingular). Such a contract would also likely place Sprint in the number-two position for customers, ahead of Verizon.

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