Sprint is hoping to feed the growing hunger for fast Internet access with the second generation of its Sprint Broadband Direct fixed wireless service.
Sprints next-generation fixed wireless, currently in the pilot phase, will allow the company set up multiple antennas in its locations to boost speed and improve reach and reliability.
"We hope that we can put voice over fixed wireless in order to offer long-distance voice services eventually," says Len Lauer, president of the global markets group at Sprint, in Kansas City, Mo. "Currently, we are working to achieve higher speeds in our second-generation technology."
Today, customers commonly experience downstream rates of 512 kilobits per second to 1.5 megabits per second, with burst rates up to 5 Mbps. In addition, Sprint has been expanding its coverage, most recently to Fresno, Calif., and Chicago.
Infrastructure is the big differentiator, as Sprint competes with other fixed wireless companies and for customers locked out of broadband technologies, including DSL and cable modem access.
About 60 percent of customers that come to Sprint for fixed wireless services believe they cannot get other types of service.
Led by CEO William T. Esrey, Sprint is working to best DSL and cable providers in the customer service arena, reporting that the average time from a customer call to service installation is only seven days. DSL providers, on the other hand, are reporting installation delays of weeks or even months.
Sprint hasnt put all of its eggs in a single broadband basket, though. The company offers DSL service through its Sprint ION (Integrated On-Demand Network) package, which bundles local and long-distance calling and broadband Internet access.
"When we add voice services, the customer doesnt have to worry about multiple providers," Lauer says. "Its also a better economic model."