Sprint Lays Out Network Vision Plans

Earlier today in an investor conference held in New York City, Sprint’s executive team laid out its plans regarding its long-term Network Vision initiative first announced in December of last year. The initiative will take Sprint from its current state to a more streamlined carrier while confirming key details regarding its agreement with LightSquared as well as its own plans to transition to LTE. Continue reading for the full breakdown.

First, Sprint has confirmed that the first stage of the Network Vision transition began last Sunday with the launch of Sprint Direct Connect service. The relaunched Direct Connect service differs from the stillborn launch in 2009 in that it has been redeveloped as a platform agnostic service and will be made available on Android as a standalone application along with dedicated hardware. The transition will continue with the first phase of the Network Vision switch during this quarter, whereby more and more cellsites will be consolidated from the current 40,000+ footprint to the goal of 22,000 converged multi-mode cellsites by 2017.

Second, Sprint has confirmed that it will launch LTE service in the middle of next year on a combination of current 1900 MHz spectrum and will be preparing to rollout LightSquared’s 1600MHz implementation as the network host, provided the embattled network wholesaler can receive the proper approvals from the FCC. In terms of devices, dual-mode CDMA/LTE devices will also be released in the same timeframe. However, Sprint took great pains to emphasize that WiMax hardware and devices would continue to be supported during the transition in 2012, including new hardware launches.

Network Vision coverage comparison

Third, Sprint also detailed how the initiative would improve coverage by demonstrating current coverage maps and new Network Vision coverage maps whereby coverage gaps, (shown in yellow above) would be virtually eliminated due to the increased spectrum availability from the accelerated iDEN transition slated to end in 2013 as well as increased efficiency from the multi-mode basestations. However, the Network Vision initiative as it stands has increased in cost from the 4-5 billion expected by investors to $10 billion within the next two years, with the upside of having all of the initial buildout completed, including initial network testing for LTE and 1x Advanced.

Humberto Saabedra is the Editor-in-Chief of AnimeNews.bizPhoneNews.com and an occasional columnist for Ani.me. He can also be found musing on things at @AnimeNewsdotbiz

8 responses to “Sprint Lays Out Network Vision Plans”

  1. sam somwaru

    shoot and stream adult video material and server content. looks great for sprint.

  2. Jamie

    So what does this mean for people like me that just signed up with Sprint and had gotten the Motorola Photon, which is a 4G phone, but doesn’t support LTE technology? There is currently no Sprint 4G in my area, and if they are rolling out LTE then to me that means that me having a 4G capable phone is useless unless I go to one of the few places that currently have Sprint 4G.

  3. Christopher Price

    Basically, Sprint will be able to dynamically allocate between WiMAX and LTE based on demand. You’ll get more coverage and be able to upgrade to an LTE phone at your leisure.

    The only people that will have a problem with Network Vision are those that cling to phones for 4-5 years. Sprint will want to roll up WiMax within about three years or so after LTE is nationwide.

  4. Jamie

    So what you are telling me is that with my current phone, I will be able to access 4G on the new expanded network? From what I gathered about the whole thing is that they were going to abandon WiMax expansion and go with LTE from here on out. So with that said there is no 4G where I live and if they do expand 4G to my area, it will be LTE which my phone isn’t programmed for. Does that mean that I won’t have 4G access unless I get an LTE phone?

  5. Christopher Price

    Correct, you will be able to access the expanded WiMAX coverage that comes from Network Vision.

    WiMAX customers are not going to be abandoned. Sprint is moving WiMAX coverage from Clearwire’s footprint to their own. At the same time, Sprint is rolling out LTE coverage alongside their own WiMAX coverage.

    The result is that you will get better coverage right away. Eventually, Sprint will stop selling WiMAX phones, but will continue to offer WiMAX service for those users.

    Eventually, once enough people have upgraded from WiMAX to LTE phones, Sprint will be able to scale back the spectrum allocated for WiMAX. Network Vision allows for this to be done without anyone climbing a tower, ever. It can all be done in almost real time from Sprint’s NOC.

    The only people that will lose out are those that cling to outdated WiMAX devices years from now, and Sprint will probably offer those customers free LTE phones.

  6. Jamie

    Thanks for the clarification Chris. I just wanted to make sure that my phone wasn’t going to be useless because I thought they weren’t going to expand the WiMax out this way. Thanks again.

  7. bottomline

    Ok, so does that mean my EVO 3D will be useless in 3years(no 4g coverage)??

  8. Christopher Price

    It means WiMAX will begin to be phased out in a few years. The timeframes will likely be determined based on lingering demand/usage of WiMAX, and available spectrum in an area for LTE users.