Published reports late today have Sprint putting aside its merger talks with T-Mobile to focus on a potentially MUCH MORE IMPORTANT deal–one with Charter and Comcast (or is it Comcast and Charter). I’ve predicted a deal like this for years.

Why is a Sprint-MSOs deal more important than a deal with T-Mobile?

As I’ve said before, cable TV MSOs are like Visa: “Everywhere you want to be.”

Sprint needs to strike a deal with the biggest MSOs to gain access to the fat backhaul offered by MSOs, the quick deployment and provisioning of small cells on cable TV strand (and inside cable TV pedestals), and to the back or front yards of millions of homes passed by the cable operators.

Who are the real losers?  Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Mobilitie.  As to the first three, they are likely to be blocked for Cable TV strand-mounting of small cells in the major markets controlled by Comcast and Spectrum.  As for Mobilitie, I believe it stands to lose the most from any Sprint-MSO deal that will invariably drive a silver stake into the heart of what I can only call a very troubling and disjointed ‘5G-but-not-really-5G’ piecemeal deployment of small cells that aren’t really all that small.

Oh, yes, Crown Castle and Extenet, as well as other fiber/builder providers will suffer from a deal like this which would cut into the heart of their fiber and node businesses in a really big way.

Not too long after Sprint inks a deal with the MSOs it can expect to cease to operate as a separate entity as the cable operators swallow Sprint whole to bring the wireless services under the sole control of the MSOs.  For the MSOs it gives them the existing Sprint network, such as it is, outside of the MSO’s footprints to offer streaming video services over Sprint’s wireless network.  This would likely follow AT&T’s deployment of offering streaming video services via wireless outside of the existing wireline U-Verse and Giga-whatever footprint.

T-Mobile should now expect to receive merger-partnering overtures from other first tier and second tier cable operators. Moreover, it can expect to slide to a solid last place with a Sprint-MSO deal.

Those of you old enough will recall that Sprint largely came out of Cox Communications’ pioneer FCC licenses. What’s old is new again, and we live in interesting times.



Who are John DuBois, Suzy DuBois, Tracy Pielemeier, Kristen Burkman, and Ginny Kelleher and why are they important?

When Crown Castle was unhappy with a decision by the City of Westfield, Indiana denying a cell site application, they sued Westfield in state court. The case is:

Crown Castle Towers 06-2 LLC v. City of Westfield, Tracy Pielemeier, Ginny Kelleheret al, Case No. 29C01-1511-MI-009308.

Of course Crown Castle sued the City of Westfield.  No surprise there. But Crown Castle through its attorneys took the nearly unheard of step of suing John DuBois, Suzy DuBois, Tracy Pielemeier, Kristen Burkman, and Ginny Kelleher, all of whom spoke out against Crown Castle’s project at a City of Westfield public hearing.

Okay, Crown Castle said in a statement delivered to the local press that they no choice to include John DuBois, Suzy DuBois, Tracy Pielemeier, Kristen Burkman, and Ginny Kelleher in the suit. Hogwash. It was, I believe, a stupid and ill-sighted move to stifle future public comment on matters of public interest, specifically pending cell site applications.


I’m not expert on Indiana law, but Indiana has an “ANTI-SLAPP” statute designed to quash law suits filed to stifle political speech in public forums. A SLAPP is a “strategic law suit against public participation” and an ANTI-SLAPP is a law suit to quash the SLAPP.  See the Digital Medial Law Project website for more information on SLAPPs and ANTI-SLAPPs in Indiana.  It seems to me that Crown Castle’s inclusion of John DuBois, Suzy DuBois, Tracy Pielemeier, Kristen Burkman, and Ginny Kelleher in the suit against the City of Westfield amounted to a SLAPP.

Had Crown Castle (or any other similarly-situated plaintiff) included as law suit defendants parties merely testifying against it at a public hearing in California or New Mexico, where I am licensed to practice law, I would have immediately recommended filing an ANTI-SLAPP to dismiss those parties.  They simply wanted their voices to be heard during the public hearing on a matter of public concern. I would have also recommend seeking attorneys fees against Crown Castle on behalf of the SLAPPed defendants.

Apologies are Due

I believe that Crown Castle and its local counsel of record, Matthew Price, Esq., Scott Leisz, Esq., and Joshua Burress, Esq. jointly owe John DuBois, Suzy DuBois, Tracy Pielemeier, Kristen Burkman, and Ginny Kelleher a public apology.  They should also publicly commit to not making law suit defendants out of those who speak against Crown Castle at public hearings.

Sue the public agency for denying a cell site application? Fine. Let the decision stand the test of the Act and other laws.  Sue the public who stand up against Crown Castle at a public hearing? Not fine.

Judge Felix’s April 15, 2016 opinion, remanding the case back for further hearings, can be found HERE.