Sprint and Level 3 Communications have been negotiating about forming a joint venture, the key asset of which would be Sprint’s long-distance network.

The combination of Sprint’s long-distance network and Level 3’s fiber backbone could amplify the two company’s strengths in business services and cellular backhaul. Both support various cable operators by carrying voice traffic.

The talks are preliminary, reported The Wall Street Journal (article here). Sprint does not want to sell the unit outright but would consider selling a minority stake, according to the paper.

Qwest recently revealed that it had received an unsolicited bid for its long-distance network, and had opened an auction for the unit (no sale resulted); the WSJ identified Level 3 as a likely bidder.

The common thread between the two stories is Level 3 seeking access of one type or another to a long-distance network.

More Broadband Direct 06/11/09:
•  Alabama woman sues Comcast over set-top box lease
•  ACA doubles down, insists fees unfair
•  Optimum Business rings up SIP trunking for small businesses
•  Field, LaJoie named to SCTE board of directors
•  Level 3 turns to Sprint for long distance
•  Kudelski Group not interested in selling
•  Recession hits Ixia; layoffs announced
•  Harmonic, Vobile collaborate on online content tracking
•  Analysis: Wireless tax relief bill has grim history
•  Qualcomm raises Q3 guidance
•  LRG: Economic divide extends beyond broadband
•  Palm appoints ex-Apple whiz as CEO
•  iSuppli: Pre costlier than expected
•  Google unfazed by 3 U.S. government inquiries