By Dr. John Saw, Chief Network Officer
We started out 2014 with clear priorities:
- Finish the rip and replacement of the 3G Network Vision deployment
- Roll out HD Voice nationwide by July 2014
- Expand our LTE footprint across all 3 bands at 1.9 GHz, 800 MHz and 2.5 GHz
- Reach 100 million people with 2.5 GHz LTE by the end of the year
The network team here at Sprint is excited to close out the year and jump into 2015 having met, and in some cases exceeded, these important milestones.
Back in July, we announced that we had substantially completed the rip and replacement of our 3G 1.9 GHz network. At the same time, we also announced the roll-out of nationwide High Definition (HD) Voice which gave our customers a significant improvement in voice performance quality. Today we have 24.2 million HD Voice capable devices in use by our customer base. We are also closing out the year by completing our nationwide deployment of voice service on 800 MHz. This will greatly improve the coverage quality of our voice footprint, especially indoors.
As for LTE, we now offer 4G service in 552 markets covering more than 260 million people. This is mostly with LTE 1.9 GHz and we are working to add more LTE coverage and capacity with LTE 800 MHz and LTE 2.5 GHz. Today we’re excited to announce that customers in 16 new markets including Charlotte, North Carolina, and Indianapolis, Indiana, will benefit from super-fast LTE data speeds running on our 2.5 GHz spectrum. This brings our total number of LTE 2.5 GHz markets to 62 covering more than 100 million people.
In addition, this year we made great progress toward our goal of reaching underserved communities with our network. Sprint’s Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program now includes 27 carriers, and we plan to extend 4G LTE coverage in 27 states, covering 565,000 square miles and a population of more than 38 million.
Our focus today and in the year ahead is on providing our customers with a network that works where and when they want, with a consistent experience and improved voice quality and data speed. Today Sprint customers are seeing a marked improvement in network performance. Results by independent mobile analytics firm RootMetrics® for the second half of 2014 show Sprint achieved meaningful year-over-year improvement in network performance. Sprint’s network recently received 94 first-place or shared first-place RootScore® Awards for reliability, call and/or text performance in cities across the country*. According to Bill Moore, CEO of RootMetrics, “Sprint has shown great improvement in network performance in the 125 major metro areas we study as compared to the first half of this year. In most of the metro areas we have seen meaningful improvements in Sprint’s overall reliability. Call success rates have shown impactful improvement in nearly half of the metro areas. Consumers in half of the cities we study are experiencing meaningfully faster download speeds.”
With a new, more agile network organization in place, leadership from Junichi Miyakawa and Stephen Bye, and the support of the network experts at SoftBank, we move into 2015 with a strong team and clear priorities.
In the year ahead we will continue to expand our 2.5 GHz LTE coverage in cities around the country, prioritizing areas where we have the highest usage and capacity demands. Our engineers will also continue the LTE 800 MHz build, crucial to providing great coverage to our customers (especially indoors). Today we’re halfway there, and we expect to be substantially complete with our LTE 800 MHz build by the end of 2015 in markets where the spectrum is available.
Our hard-working network team is laser-focused on improving the experience for our customers and our network’s performance is getting better every day. We will continue to utilize some of the most advanced technologies in wireless – carrier aggregation for higher speeds, 8T8R radios for enhanced coverage and multi-antenna processing techniques like MIMO for higher capacity; along with tri-band LTE Sprint Spark™ devices for our best high speed data experience for our customers. Our deep spectrum depth at 2.5 GHz, in conjunction with our other deployed bands, allows us to build the big pipes our customers need. Keep an eye on us in 2015 – we’ve made significant progress this year and we’re well on our way to delivering a fantastic experience to each and every Sprint customer.
Happy holidays and best wishes for the New Year from the network team at Sprint.
*Rankings based on RootMetrics Metro RootScore reports conducted in the 1st half and 2nd half of 2014. Rankings of 4 national mobile networks rely on scores calculated from random samples. Your experiences may vary. The RootMetrics award is not an endorsement of Sprint. Visit rootmetrics.com for more details.