Sprint CFO: Customers now on LTE 90% of the time

Roughly three years after it first launched its LTE network, Sprint said that the vast majority of its customers now spend most of their time on LTE.

Sprint CFO Tarek Robbiati said at an investor event today that "above 90 percent of the time our customers are on LTE" rather than 3G, according to a SeekingAlpha transcript of the event. "So, the wider the coverage, the better it is and also the quality is better measured if the customer is on LTE as opposed to being a 3G."

That figure may not sound extraordinary given Sprint's strategy of focusing on densely populated areas rather than rural regions. But Verizon -- which is often cited as having the nation's best network -- said recently that its LTE network handles roughly 89 percent of its total wireless traffic.

Robbiati also said Sprint's dropped-call performance has improved from "well above the 1 percent" range during the carrier's transition to LTE, to 0.6 percent today. And he credited Sprint's deployment of carrier aggregation technology for the operator's ability to deliver improved speeds over its LTE network.

"And the beauty of carrier aggregation is that it's a technology that you can very rapidly deploy," he continued. "It's deployed by way of software upgrades. So you don't really need to roll trucks to update your network sites. There are too many of them to do that quickly."

He added: "It's done by software. It's done by clusters of sites. So you can quickly roll out carrier aggregation to optimize your network."

Robbiati also continued his drumbeat of cutting costs to turn the carrier around financially. The operator is already trimming roaming costs, Robbiati said, and is looking at backhaul and other IT areas to decrease spending.

"Every function is under scrutiny, whether it's finance or whether it's HR or whether it's legal," he said. "We have way too many overheads in the corporate office, in sales and marketing -- in marketing itself, we are not very good at targeting marketing expenditure that is giving us the biggest bang for the buck."

Finally, Robbiati plugged Sprint's spectrum holdings, which he said the carrier "has not fully exploited."

For more:
- see this SeekingAlpha transcript

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