Network operator Sprint announced that its customers in Dallas, Atlanta, Houston and San Antonio are expected to be among the first to benefit from 4G Long-Term Evolution and improved 3G coverage in the first half of 2012. Company CEO Dan Hesse made the announcement Thursday at the annual Citigroup Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications Conference
The launches in these metropolitan areas mark the next step in the company's overall network strategy, also known as Network Vision. Sprint customers can access faster data speeds, improved 3G voice and data quality, and stronger in-building signal penetration. Whether on a smartphone streaming video, browsing the Web with a mobile hotspot, or making a voice call to someone across the country, all customers in the upgraded areas are expected to have access to the company's 3G/4G LTE network.
"Within the first half of 2012, Sprint customers should experience first-hand the wide-reaching improvements we have made in terms of boosting voice and data quality," said Bob Azzi, senior vice president of network for Sprint. "With advanced smartphones and sophisticated wireless modems, our customers are using more and more mobile data, and one of our top priorities is to provide the best technology possible to improve our customers' experience."
Sprint's Network Vision platform involves the deployment of multimode base stations across many of Sprint's cell sites throughout the country. As base stations are deployed, customers will notice improvements in voice quality, signal density and data speeds, the company said. The first completed deployment of a multimode base station was in Branchburg, N.J., in December 2011. As additional areas receive 3G enhancements and 4G LTE service, announcements will be made. Another component of the company's network strategy has been the deployment of Sprint Direct Connect on the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) network. Sprint's legacy in push-to-talk leadership continues with new CDMA devices that launched in September 2011, and the company noted more CDMA push-to-talk devices would be announced in the coming months.
In December, Sprint and Clearwire, which provides 4G wireless broadband services, announced agreements potentially worth up to $1.6 billion over the next four years in payments for WiMax services, possible prepayments for LTE services and potential equity investments. The deal modifies prior wholesale pricing agreements and provides Sprint with unlimited access to Clearwire's WiMax network to meet its growing 4G data demands. Under the terms of the agreements, Sprint will pay Clearwire $926 million, about two-thirds of which will be paid in 2012, for unlimited 4G WiMax retail services during 2012 and 2013.
The agreements establish long-term usage-based pricing for WiMax services in 2014 and beyond. Sprint will have access to Clearwire's WiMax network through at least 2015. Sprint plans to continue selling WiMax devices with two-year contracts through at least 2012 and support those devices through the life of the contract.