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Full-fledged LTE rollout will be completed in 2013

Sometimes being an early adopter doesn't pay off.  

Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) was the first major U.S. carrier to "go 4G" -- launching a 4G modem card way back in Dec. 2008.  But despite that head start, it saw its platform of choice -- WiMAX -- go the way of HD-DVD, as the nation's largest carriers went LTE instead.  Now with Verizon Wireless, the joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD), and AT&T, Inc. (T) knee deep in consumer LTE deployments [1][2], Sprint is left playing catch-up.

In a press release Sprint discusses its LTE progress, revealing that it has completed testing in its labs a new platform called "Network Vision", which Sprint will use to rapidly deploy LTE across the country.  Network Vision is a comprehensive platform, which will overhaul Sprint's network, deploying LTE and beefing up existing 3G support.

Sprint describes:

Nationwide, Sprint is overhauling its entire network and replacing existing equipment with the newest, most advanced equipment available in the industry through a program called Network Vision. Announced in December 2010, Network Vision is planned to consolidate multiple network technologies into one seamless network with the goal of increasing efficiency and enhancing network coverage, call quality and data speeds for customers.

The carrier also drops a timeframe of when consumers will first get access to "Network Vision" LTE -- mid-2011:

Throughout 2011, Sprint achieved a number of significant milestones in the deployment of Network Vision. It is on track to offer LTE devices by mid-year 2012 and complete the majority of its Network Vision rollout in 2013. Sprint expects to make additional announcements about the timing of LTE markets and devices early next year.

Sprint reports that it has already set up its "back office systems" to support the new LTE base-stations, to allow for a "seamless rollout".

LTE tower
Sprint's back-end is ready for rapid rollout of LTE. [Image Source: Wind River blog]

LTE is not the carrier's sole focus, however.  It has been working heavily to try to beef up its 3G network and keep pace with Verizon's industry-leading coverage.  Sprint writes that it doubled infrastructure investments in 2011 to perform "tens of thousands of capacity upgrades".  The 3G upgrades should both boost data speeds and decrease dropped calls.

Bob Azzi, a Sprint senior vice president comments, "With the network investments we made in 2011 and as the only national wireless carrier to offer truly unlimited data plans while on the Sprint network, we continue to offer better value than Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T.  But our commitment to an exceptional wireless experience doesn't stop there. Sprint's on an aggressive path to roll out Network Vision, and in collaboration with our partners, have already achieved many significant milestones that offer improved customer experience on the Sprint 3G network, and we expect to maintain and even accelerate this momentum in 2012."

Sprint is riding high after ranking just a hair behind Verizon Wireless for the distinction of highest U.S. carrier consumer satisfaction on the 2011 American Customer Satisfaction Index, and for also earning the distinction of being the most improved in customer satisfaction.  Sprint also is celebrating the death of AT&T's bid to acquire Deutsche Telekom AG's (ETR:DTE) T-Mobile USA.

However, the firm continues to bleed cash quarterly and is faced with the tough prospect of how customers will react to its gradual phase-out of unlimited data.  While Sprint has not given an exact time frame for phase-out of unlimited smartphone data, sources indicate that move could come within a year.  The carrier has already completed the first step in its unlimited cuts, killing unlimited tethering.

Source: Sprint [Press Release via MarketWatch]



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RE: Unlimited
By ShaolinSoccer on 12/28/2011 6:09:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I've seen AT&T LTE getting 30mbps compared to Sprints WIMAX getting 4mbps if any signal at all (in Orlando/Kissimmee).


Geezuz, you're complaining about 4mbps? I'm getting 1.2mbps to 1.6mbps on 3G with Sprint and can watch high quality youtube videos. Are you sure 4mbps is slow? That's 4 million bits per second. Which is 500kB/s (bytes per second). How the hell can that be "slow"?! 56k modems are slow which is only 56 thousand bits per second...


RE: Unlimited
By Gio6518 on 12/28/2011 8:57:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Geezuz, you're complaining about 4mbps? I'm getting 1.2mbps to 1.6mbps on 3G with Sprint and can watch high quality youtube videos.


That was best case scenario, usually I'm lucky to get 1mbps, theres been times as of late I have full bars and 3G lit up on my EVO 3D and its somewhere between 500-700kbps I've seen as low as 10kbps in areas where I used to get around 1.5-2 mbps. I used to LOVE Sprint but lately the whole family has been complaining about speed and dropped calls.


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