Navy awards $1B wireless contract, one giant incumbent missing

Three of the "Big Four" wireless carriers will continue their services for defense and other federal agencies under a new potential five-year, $993 million Navy contract. But which telecom giant missed out?

The Navy has awarded three wireless carriers positions on a potential five-year, $993 million contract for mobile devices and services to defense and other federal agencies.

AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon are the winners for this "Spiral 3" edition of the Navy's Wireless and Telecommunications Services contract. The new contract iteration is for one base year and four option years, the Defense Department said Monday.

But one notable incumbent on Spiral 2 is missing from Spiral 3. Sprint did not win a spot. The Navy said four companies bid on Spiral 3, though it is unclear whether Sprint bid on the contract.

In recent years, the company has backed away from the federal market as evidenced by its decision to not pursue a prime spot on the General Services Administration's $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract. Sprint is a member of EIS prime Harris Corp.'s team.

Verizon has been the biggest recipient of Spiral 2 task orders since its award with $135 million in obligations. AT&T is second at $114 million and Sprint is next at $47 million, according to Deltek.

For T-Mobile, the new Spiral 3 awards give the carrier a re-entry of sorts into the federal market as it was unseated by Sprint in the Spiral 2 iteration in 2012. All of the Big Four wireless carriers were chosen for the first iteration of these contracts in December 2010 for a two-year term.

Barring any protests, work under the Spiral 3 contract is scheduled to begin in November of this year and could extend through to November 2022 if all options are exercised.

The Spiral 3 award comes a very interesting juncture for Sprint. The government market is a mere pin drop in the company's $32 billion revenue profile but it has struggled of late against giants AT&T and Verizon in the consumer market.

Sprint's merger talks with T-Mobile appear to have failed again, Japan-based financial news outlet Nikkei reported Monday. Sprint's owners Softbank tried to buy T-Mobile in 2014 but that was quashed by regulators, according to Nikkei.

The carriers restarted merger talks in the spring, but the Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Softbank had pulled out over a reluctance to turn over control of Sprint to T-Mobile's parent Deutsche Telekom.