Sprint Nextel announced Dec. 12 that it has launched 10 new markets for its high-speed EVDO Rev. A broadband data service.
Previously, the Sprint Power Vision service had been available in 10 markets; however, the added markets are the largest in the United States and include New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington. Previous markets included Milwaukee, San Diego, Las Vegas and Boston.
Originally Sprint had announced a goal of reaching 40 million people by the end of 2006. However, the new launches include 60 million people, putting the company significantly ahead of its goal. Currently, the company sells broadband wireless cards, announced during CTIA in September, as the primary means to access the service. The company told eWEEK that it plans to bring out in 2007 handsets and smart phones that will take advantage of the Power Vision network.
“It allows people to take the Internet with them and use it in places where they arent accustomed to using it,” said Ron Wells, Sprints mobile broadband product marketing manager. He said that users will have a better experience compared with EVDO Rev. 0. “Upload speeds are better,” Wells said. “They can use the applications they use at home.”
Wells noted that larger attachments are becoming the norm in e-mail. People are using their wireless connections to send everything from PowerPoint presentations to photos, he said. “This enables them to use these applications wherever theyre at.”
Sprint plans to use its Power Vision network for a lot more than just e-mail attachments, according to Wells. “Rev. A is going to underpin a lot of new technologies,” he said. “The key one for us is high performance push-to-talk.”
Wells noted that computer manufacturers are adding Sprint Power Vision support to their products. “In addition to our overall broadband offering, were able to embed EVDO in their laptops,” he said. Sony is embedding Sprints EVDO Rev. A in its Vaio TX series laptop computers, according to Wells.
“Theyre the first operator to deploy the technology,” said Michael Thelander, CEO of Signals Research Group. “Its night and day compared to release 0.” Thelander said that Sprints version of EVDO is slightly faster than HSDPA in practice because of the higher upload speed, adding that that theres a two to three times performance improvement with Rev. A over the earlier version.
“It comes down to coverage,” Thelander said. “Now that Sprint is going nationwide, the CDMA base stations will be upgraded to EVDO Rev. A.”
The Rev. A coverage will be critical to Sprints push-to-talk success, according to Thelander. “Now you can offer your CDMA subscriber and your Nextel subscriber the same experience. Its a killer application,” he said.
Push-to-talk will be part of the equation when new handsets are introduced, according to Thelander. “Handsets are going to be second-half 2007,” he said. “Handsets are always the long pole in the tent. Today, in a Sprint store, youre buying a data card. At least now when the handsets are introduced, youll have a nationwide EVDO in place to use it.”
Wells said that even though the company is ahead of its expansion plans, it doesnt plan to slack off. “You can expect our footprint to grow very quickly,” he said. “Well be substantially complete by the second or third quarter.”
Wells said that the company has been replacing cell site DO modules for some time now. “When we launch a market its just a matter of updating the software at the switch site,” he said.