Sprint boosts investment, hiring in Chicago as network densification looms

Sprint (NYSE: S) is continuing to invest in Chicago, highlighting that the windy city remains one of the carrier's premier markets as it prepares to densify its network and continue its retail expansion. The carrier said it plans to bring 750 additional new jobs to neighborhoods throughout Chicago and expects to invest $150 million in the market by the end of 2016, up from Sprint's previous commitment to invest $45 million.

The announcement, made by Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at an event yesterday in Chicago, builds on the 300 new jobs that Emanuel and Sprint announced in March. At the time, Sprint said that in the entire Chicagoland area -- which includes suburbs such as Aurora, Rosemont, Schaumburg and Gurnee -- it planned to add more than 540 jobs and would open more than 115 stores.

The additional 750 jobs include new retail positions, wireless experts for Sprint's Direct 2 You program, in which Sprint-trained employees drive around to meet customers to set up their new smartphones, as well as network technicians and engineers.

A Sprint spokeswoman told the Chicago Tribune that the company did not receive any economic incentives from Chicago and said Sprint is expanding its efforts because Chicago is one of its largest markets.

Claure said Chicago has a wealth of potential employees and customers for Sprint. According to the Tribune, he added that Sprint focused on using savings from cost cuts to put toward developing the company's products and network.

"What we're doing is areas where we cut, we're reinvesting in our network and we made a commitment to basically deploy one of the most advanced networks in the world," Claure said.

Indeed, Chicago is one of 80 markets where Sprint has started the deployment of two-carrier carrier aggregation in the 2.5 GHz band. Sprint has continually made Chicago a showcase market for its technology and has deployed LTE Advanced capabilities such as 8T8R (8 Transmitters 8 Receivers) and multi-layer MIMO in the city, in addition to carrier aggregation.

"Chicago is a critically important city for us because we're showcasing our progress and we're showcasing our advanced network. With that, we're going to make sure that the residents of Chicago have the most advanced network that they've ever had," Claure said at the event, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Sprint's investment in Chicago is being led by Tracy Nolan, the carrier's president and general manager of Illinois and Wisconsin. She is based in Chicago and directs a team of more than 1,000 employees spanning sales, customer care, operations, network operations, finance, IT and marketing.

As Light Reading notes, Nolan joined Sprint in April and is one of Claure's new appointments to revamp Sprint's network and reputation, though her position is somewhat experimental. Sprint has never before appointed a president and general manager of a specific region responsible for all operations there with an individual profit and loss line. "I'm truly the trial," Nolan said. Part of Nolan's job will be to ensure that Sprint's network densification and upgrades move forward in Chicago without negatively impacting the customer experience.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Chicago Tribune article
- see this Chicago Sun-Times article
- see this Crain's Chicago Business article

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