Sprint (NYSE: S) is bringing its new "America's Newest Network" advertising campaign to major markets including Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and elsewhere, and is touting "faster speeds, better call quality and fewer dropped calls" in an effort to generate interest in its newly overhauled CDMA network and its growing LTE network.
Sprint announced the new ad campaign during its first-quarter earnings report. The carrier said it is launching the campaign in 20 cities where it has largely completed its Network Vision upgrade, which includes improving its CDMA network and launching LTE services, including its high-speed Sprint Spark service.
Here are the 20 cities where Sprint is running the campaign:
Atlanta / Athens
Ft. Wayne / South Bend
Raleigh / Durham
And here are three examples of the ads that Sprint is running on billboards and elsewhere in the cities:
Sprint declined to discuss how much it is spending on the advertising campaign.
Sprint had previously promised to begin marketing its newly overhauled network on a market-by-market basis as it completes its Network Vision network upgrade. The goal, the company said, was to alert customers to the work it has done on its network, and to counter the network-based ad campaigns of larger carriers like AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ).
Sprint has said that in markets where it has completed its network overhaul, it has recorded a 77 percent reduction in blocked voice calls and a 34 percent reduction in dropped calls. And Sprint has said that churn in those completed markets has dropped significantly.
Sprint said it expects to report positive net customer additions in the final six months of 2014, partly as a result of its network work.
Sprint has said it will complete its Network Vision upgrade in the middle of this year. The carrier is also working to more fully deploy its LTE network, including its tri-band Sprint Spark service. Sprint during its earnings call this week said it covers 225 million POPs with LTE across 443 markets and will cover 250 million POPs with LTE by the middle of this year.
As for Sprint Spark, which combines LTE transmissions across Sprint's 800 MHz, 1900 MHz and 2.5 GHz bands, the carrier said it expects to cover 100 million POPs with the technology by the end of this year. Today, Spark is available in parts of roughly 14 markets, and it supports peak download speeds of roughly 50 Mbps and average download speeds of 12-15 Mbps. Sprint has said those peak speeds will increase to 120 Mbps by the end of this year in select markets and 180 Mbps by the end of 2015 in select markets.
However, Sprint faces significant challenges. The carrier reported losing 231,000 postpaid customers and 364,000 prepaid customers in its most recent quarter, which the company said was partly due to "service disruption associated with the company's ongoing network overhaul."
And, with its new network campaign, Sprint will go up against the likes of AT&T and Verizon that have for years been advertising the breath and speed of their respective networks. Further, Sprint's competitors aren't standing still in the network department: Verizon is working to build its LTE network into its AWS spectrum, thus increasing capacity and user speeds. And T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) recently confirmed it is starting to deploy 4x2 MIMO antenna technology in its LTE network to enhance network performance at the cell edge and generally boost the customer experience, the carrier confirmed.
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