By Malathi Nayak
(Reuters) - Sprint Corp will not join the U.S. government's auction of airwaves set for early 2016, as it has adequate airwaves to currently build out its network and for its future needs, the company said on Saturday.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is gearing up to auction off valuable 600 megahertz airwaves that can travel long distances and penetrate buildings, to wireless carriers, which are clamoring for faster speeds for data-guzzling customers.
Sprint will not participate as its current holdings of airwaves are "sufficient" for its ongoing network upgrade effort and to serve customers in the future, it said in a statement, making it the first U.S carrier to announce it will sit out of 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 the statement. "Sprint has the spectrum it needs to deploy its network architecture of the future."
Investors have been concerned about financial health of Sprint, the no.4 U.S. wireless carrier based on subscribers, which has struggled to report a profit in recent years.
Sprint burned $2.2 billion in cash in the second quarter ended June 30. It is locked in an aggressive price war with its rivals, Verizon Communications Inc, AT&T Inc and T-Mobile US Inc, which are going after each others' subscribers with deep discounts and promotions that have weighed on growth.
Sprint also skipped the airwaves auction called the "AWS-3" spectrum sale that concluded earlier this year.
Sprint's larger rivals, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc, have said they plan on participating in the 2016 auction. (Reporting by Malathi Nayak; Editing by Sandra Maler)