Sprint is in the final stretch of its Network Vision LTE overhaul, adding coverage in 41 cities for a total of 443 metros and six additional Sprint Spark cities for a total of 24 markets in the first quarter, Chief Network Officer John Saw said during the company’s earnings call.
And it can’t happen quickly enough for the carrier.
“In four large metropolitan markets where the voice and 3G network replacement has been largely complete for months,” said Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO. “We are seeing improvements in churn and, on a lagging basis, gross add share. In those markets, we have now returned to consumers postpaid positive net adds.”
The Network Vision LTE rollout is on track to cover 250 million by mid-year, and Sprint Spark, an enhanced LTE technology that operates at speeds of 60 Mbps, is expected to cover 100 million people by year-end.
“Replacement of our legacy voice and 3G networks continues and we expect to substantially complete our 3G, 1.9-GHz network modernization by mid-year,” Saw said. “In addition, we expect to have the voice service on our 800-MHz spectrum on air across the majority of our footprint by the middle of the year, further enhancing the coverage and quality of our voice network.”
Sprint began turning up 800-MHz LTE radios in the last quarter and plans to expand Sprint Spark coverage using both the 800-MHz and 2.5-GHz bands. Sprint has completed lab testing of the eight-transmit, eight-receive (8T8R) base station equipment with its three vendors and has begun field testing.
“Regarding the TD LTE build on our 2.5-GHz spectrum, we expect to begin overlaying to 8T8R equipment on our existing network, middle of the year and expect to approximately 100 million total 2.5-GHz LTE pops deployed by the end of the year,” Saw said.
Sprint the Greenest Wireless Carrier
Named the most “Eco Focused” wireless carrier by Compass Intelligence earlier this year, Sprint added another accolade for its recycling practices, receiving the EPA’s WasteWise National Partner of the Year Award for Very Large Companies.
Since 2010, Sprint has diverted more than 74,000 tons of solid waste from landfills. Last year, through the decommissioning of its nationwide iDEN network as part of Network Vision, Sprint diverted more than 175 million pounds of electronic waste from landfills, saving the company more than $275 million.
As a member of the EPA’s SMM Electronics Challenge, which promotes recycling 100 percent of used electronics, Sprint recycled all the network equipment shed during the project: switching equipment, radios, antennas, coaxial cables, lead-acid batteries and more. The initiative averted more than 15 million pounds of lead-acid batteries alone from going into landfills.