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Aug. 23, 2012

Sprint's farsighted Network Vision is a plan for success

by Sam Lewando, Online Entertainment Editor
Sprint is in trouble and has been for several years. The phone company's lackadaisical attitude towards network upgrades and contentment with remaining the third largest carrier has damaged its number of subscribers greatly. According to CNET, competitors AT&T and Verizon now control about 70 percent of the wireless subscriber market and it seems as though their dominance will only continue in coming years, something that Sprint hopes to change with their ongoing network overhaul. This overhaul has real potential to change the wireless market in the United States, and Sprint seems to be making all of the right moves so far to do so.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse speaks about Network Vision at CTIA 2012. Courtesy of CNET
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse speaks about Network Vision at CTIA 2012.
In the U.S., there is much less competition than in Europe or other areas, largely due to the prohibitive size. Because of how big our country is it requires a huge amount of resources to have network coverage of the entire country. There are currently four major national carriers in the U.S: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Sprint has been third largest for some time, yet is in danger of dropping down even further, because of their aging and congested network and poor coverage. In the past several years, Sprint has declined to upgrade their network, and had even given up on the 4G WiMax effort they had emphasized so much. Even them making a $15.5 billion bid for the iPhone gained some customers, yet was not enough, as the root of the issue remained the aging technology at the core of their network.

On October 2011, Sprint announced a complete overhaul of their network called Network Vision, which will modernize their network and allow for future upgradeability. Network Vision requires Sprint to update every single one of its towers as well as improve the network that connects the cell towers to the internet. This network upgrade will allow Sprint to once again be competitive in the wireless market and put them in an positive position for the long term. Their newly upgraded network will introduce better wireless speeds, have similar maintenance costs, require less power, as well as having a modular design so they can easily upgrade them if needed.

This new network will also allow Sprint to roll out 4G LTE, which is a huge improvement from the current 3G data and 4G WiMax that is being used. 4G LTE will allow for them to take the load off of their aging 3G network, which will increase speeds dramatically for both the new 4G LTE users, as well as the current 3G users due to less stress on the network.

The Network Vision rollout is well under way, with several markets already being announced, and more being rolled out at an aggressive rate. According to Sprint enthusiast site Sprint 4G Rollout Updates (S4GRU.com), Network Vision will be officially launched in Washington D.C and the surrounding areas around October, with the estimated completion beginning around February 2013. However, the results will be seen sooner than that with faster data speeds available from upgraded towers as they are completed. Sprint's overall Network Vision rollout will extend into 2014 and is estimated to cost between $4 and 5 billion, yet over seven years, Sprint says that the benefit will be $10 to 11 billion. Not only will there be slightly reduced operating costs, they will have more options to upgrade their network to new technologies thanks to the design. Additionally, more than 99 percent of Sprint's cell towers will be updated with Network Vision, providing practically nationwide benefits.

Network Vision is an incredible opportunity for Sprint, providing they make it through the next two years intact, they will be in a great position. Additionally, Sprint has almost no debt due in the next two years and are in no danger of defaulting or going bankrupt in the time span of the Network Vision rollout. At the end of Network Vision, they will have a new network, with great speeds, and with that the potential to rise to the level of Verizon and AT&T.



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  • Zak (View Email) on August 24, 2012 at 10:45 AM
    I understand this is a high school article so I'll cut it some slack, but the writer needs to check facts before going to print. The claims are vague and even disingenous. Sprint has not been in trouble for several years. Sprint has struggled in the last several years but the last 2 years have seen a tremendous turnaround, not only in customer retention but network and cusotmer growth. Wall Street has also been a fan of Sprint for the last couple of years. Compare Sprint's stock to other telecoms and you'll find that Sprint is the only one that has doubled in the last year (granted, it was pretty low to begin with). Sprint is also retaining a higher percentage of customers than its competitors are. The assertion that Sprint is "in danger of dropping further" is dubious. Sam, as a writer, you must show proof if you intend to make such claims. T-Mobile is the fourth largest wireles provider in the US. Sprint is adding customers and T-Mobile is losing them. And the gap in total number of customers is staggering (Sprint has roughly 20 million more customers). This most definitely is not "dangerous" territory for Sprint unless they somehow reverse their growing trend and lose millions of customers in one year.

    Also, other claims are misleading and confusing. The writer states: "Network Vision requires Sprint to update every single one of its towers..." but then later says "more than 99 percent of Sprint's cell towers will be updated with Network Vision". Which one is it? 99% and "every single one" are two very different things, especially when dealing in large numbers (such as thousands of cell sites).

    And finally, the last paragraph is a contradiction. The writer says "Network Vision is an incredible opportunity for Sprint, providing they make it through the next two years intact, they will be in a great position". And then in the follow-up sentence, he claims "Sprint has almost no debt due in the next two years and are in no danger of defaulting or going bankrupt in the time span of the Network Vision rollout". Sam, why wouldn't Sprint make it "intact"? If there's some doubt in the marketplace, provide your sources and tell us what the concern is. Sprint is expected to complete Network Vision in less than 1 year. If Sprint has no debt load to pay off in the next two years, why would there be any danger of them not making it through the next two years "intact"? This seems like a sensationalistic statement with no facts to support it. Sam, back up your claims with facts and then go to print. Otherwise, an "A" for the effort and following telecom trends.
  • Nick (View Email) on August 26, 2012 at 9:03 PM
    Sounds like you cut 'em a lot of slack.
  • Carla Cooper-Hicks (View Email) on October 8, 2012 at 11:55 AM
    I would say the article expressed well my opinion & experience with Sprint. I've been a Sprint customer for 12 years & I'm about to switch to AT&T because I gave to have an Air Rave at home and at work in order to use my HTC smartphone & '1-bar' service. I am working with a wonderful Sprint person who is bending over backwards to get my sign strength up. She, in fact, was the first one to tell me about Network Vision. My contract is up Feb. 2013. After all the suffering of not being able to use my phone while others around me with other service providers are able, I'd say Sprint needs to give us a free month if service to just stick around to test Network Vision.
  • Becky on September 18, 2013 at 9:01 AM
    I don't care if the phone an old 1920, I just want clear service. I don't need some to tell me to go the the window, door, or I have to drive a mile down the road just to make a phone call. You need to inproved the towels prior to new phone.
  • Sam on September 18, 2013 at 9:16 AM
    The signal in the Maryland area stink
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