Sprint held a talk at the recent Sprint Open Solutions Conference in Santa Clara, in front of hundreds of developers and industry experts, where the company CEO outlined their plans for the future, along with news that their LTE deployment would be sped up, in an attempt to streamline their services. The CEO, Dan Hesse, spoke at length about Sprint’s future in the cellphone industry, and how they plan to stay competitive in a very fast moving field.
Sprint has had the iDEN network for many years now, ever since they bought Nextel, supporting older phones, and it’s been working on shutting it down. With the ancient technology laid to rest, it will free up some spectrum for Sprint to move forward with future technologies. Dan emphasised that the company’s future is LTE and LTE Advanced. Originally, the plan was to bring these new technologies online within the next 5 years. Now, they are speeding up that time frame and promising LTE to be deployed over the course of next year, and by 2013 they will start delivering LTE Advanced, which uses the same technology but provides faster speed to users.
Right now, the provider has to support many different technologies, including iDEN, WiMax, 2G and 3G. Another way they are trying to streamline services is by implementing multi-modal antennas, which will take care of every type of connection over a single physical antenna. This will reduce costs and bring higher coverage to all. In a way, because Sprint has so many different cellphone technologies, that gives them more spectrum to start LTE coverage over a larger area, and they will be doing so over the 1900MHz frequency. In 2013, LTE Advanced will be introduced on 800MHz and 1600MHz, which will bring even more coverage, since lower frequencies give higher penetration.
As for 3G and WiMax, Sprint says it will keep covering both, but is hoping to cover 250 million people with LTE by the end of next year, and move users to 4G. Right now, many customers have 2G-WiMax phones, and starting early next year the first LTE device will be offered by the company, although it won’t support WiMax, so customers will need to choose between the two. With theoretical limits of close to 100Mbps download speeds, the new network will be a great jump for many of the provider’s users who are still stuck with 2G CDMA handsets.
By streamlining it’s offerings, Sprint hopes to remain at the forefront of technology and reach a wider audience. Right now, even between it’s many diverging offerings, there’s a lot of dead zones in it’s coverage maps. With things like multi-modal antennas and a larger spectrum dedicated to LTE, the cellphone provider may just pull it off before some of the other big players in the industry.