Sprint CEO Dan Hesse acknowledged that the carrier is still working through its Network Vision network upgrade, and that as it replaces equipment to improve its network, customers will see degradations in service and Sprint will see higher churn as a result. However, he said that Sprint's tri-mode LTE service, dubbed "Sprint Spark," which is just getting underway, will provide the kind of speed differentiation that will set Sprint apart.
Sprint indicated that its Sprint Spark tri-mode LTE service is up and running Chicago, and the carrier touted the network improvements it has made in the market, in what could be a prelude to a wider marketing campaign about its network.
Sprint announced it will brand its forthcoming tri-mode LTE service as "Sprint Spark," and said it will bring the service to the top 100 U.S. markets during the next three years with speeds capable of reaching 50-60 Mbps and perhaps faster.
Sprint posted its first quarterly net profit since 2007 in the third quarter under new ownership of Japanese parent SoftBank. However, the carrier still lost subscribers as the hangover from its shutdown of the Nextel network at the end of the second quarter continued to hurt its results.
Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer said the carrier remains open to using its multi-mode base stations to host another company's spectrum, provided such a deal was beneficial to both parties.
Sprint plans to finish its deployment of its Network Vision network equipment by the middle of 2014, later than it had previously indicated, according to a securities filing.
Sprint will be able to deploy Clearwire's 2.5 GHz spectrum for TD-LTE service on a nationwide basis now that it is flush with fresh capital from SoftBank, which now controls 78 percent of Sprint, according to Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer. Sprint formally took control of Clearwire earlier this month.
Sprint reported a steeper-than-expected net loss for the second quarter and shed more than 2 million total wireless customers in the period, with much of that related to its June 30 shutdown of its Nextel iDEN network.
Sprint is chugging along toward its goal of covering 200 million POPs with LTE by the end of 2013, but the pace of its deployment has lagged its Tier 1 competitors, including late-comer T-Mobile US, which launched LTE in March and now covers 157 million POPs in 116 markets. Sprint's LTE deployment has been hindered by a variety of factors, ranging from not enough fiber backhaul to issues related to its wide-ranging Network Vision network modernization project.
Sprint Nextel is just days away from shutting down service on its iDEN Nextel network--the last full day of service will be June 29--but is already looking to the advanced services it will enable on that vacated spectrum.