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Jeff Kagan: Status Report of Sprint Network Upgrade

By  +Follow July 1, 2014 2:18PM
Tickers Mentioned:

Sprint, Sprint Wireless, Softbank, T-mobile merger, AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless

One of the more interesting stories this year is about the transformation the Sprint (S) wireless network is going through. After Softbank acquired part of Sprint last summer they started pouring in billions of dollars ripping out the old network and installing brand new gear. So what is the status of the new Sprint update? Let’s take a look.

Sprint held a conference in Chicago June 23 to update the community. While initial views of many going into this meeting were mixed, most were impressed with what they saw and heard.

So far, I like what I am seeing and hearing.

Sprint is continuing the build out of their new Network Vision and Sprint Spark. Based on what I am witnessing, I think things should continue to improve for the nation’s number three wireless carrier in coming quarters.

At the meeting were CEO Dan Hesse, Chief Network Officer Dr. John Saw and others Sprint executives. Saw gave a rooftop cell site tour where he shows the Sprint network in action. He pointed to various features for voice and data for each Network Vision station.

It appears that in downtown Chicago, Sprint has consistently fast LTE upstream and downstream speeds. If this represents what Sprint will look like going forward, I think they could turn into a real competitor once again.

This was impressive. The next question I have is how quickly can they roll out this faster and better service to all their customers over their entire network?

Sprint Has Accomplished Much this Year

I would say the Sprint rollout will look similar to what we see with AT&T Mobility (T) , Verizon Wireless (VZ) and T-Mobile (TMUS) . Carriers seem to start out in the center of cities then build out to cover the entire market area around each city.

With that said, when will you see service improvements? It depends where you live and work and spend time. Some cities will be earlier and others will be later, but the entire Sprint network is heading in the right direction. This entire build out should still take several quarters.

It’s important to keep things in perspective. Sprint and Softbank had a long road ahead of them when they started this journey less than a year ago. So far they have shown significant improvement in certain markets. However there is still much work to be done.

So if this meeting were a status report, I’d say Sprint is doing the right things and getting better, faster and stronger, quarter-by-quarter.

We are starting to see the promise of what this new Sprint network will deliver to the industry meaning customers, partners and investors.

The network appears to be fast, it is high quality, it is clear, it is secure and it can handle quite a bit of voice and data traffic without getting bogged down.

Building From the Big Cities Out

This Chicago event said nothing about the potential T-Mobile merger. Instead it did shed light on where Sprint stands today and the direction they are heading in.

Sprint was impressive in Chicago.

There is still quite a bit of network build out that has to occur. Sprint will start offering this new service in the downtown areas of cities nationwide. Then they will spread further throughout the cities over time.

We must evaluate Sprint like we do AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile. Every wireless carrier takes time to continually upgrade their networks. No carrier updates the entire network all at once. They update bit-by-bit over several years.

That’s what the build out from 2G to 3G to 4G and beyond is all about. Every carrier today is completing their 4G build out, but they still have plenty of locations on a variety of technologies including slower speeds in pockets around the nation. That’s the way wireless builds out.

It’s the same with Sprint. Over the next few quarters we will start to see them offer this powerful and fast network in more locations around the country.

As customers use this service if the quality and speed and reliability continue to be as good as Chicago, things could start to improve pretty rapidly for Sprint.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

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By  +Follow July 1, 2014 2:18PM



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