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Despite concentrating on LTE build out, Sprint will spend $200 million to upgrade its 3G pipeline

Posted: , by Alan F.

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Despite concentrating on LTE build out, Sprint will spend $200 million to upgrade its 3G pipeline
Sprint has been spending money building out its LTE pipeline. The problem is that the carrier has been slowly increasing the size of its LTE footprint while it has been adding a number of new subscribers, clogging up its 3G network. Add in the number of Sprint subscribers moving over to smartphones and you have a logjam that is slowing things up for Sprint customers.

"We are also experiencing increased data usage driven by more subscribers on the Sprint platform and a continuing shift in our subscriber base to smartphones, which has required additional capital expenditures of legacy 3G Sprint platform equipment. Furthermore, based on current estimates of increased data usage, we expect additional capital expenditures of legacy equipment until our network modernization is substantially complete."-Sprint, SEC filing
While the carrier would love to spend all it can to speed up its "Network Vision" plan which takes subscribers off 3G CDMA and puts them on 4G LTE, the net new addition of  900,000 subscribers is taxing the 3G pipeline of the nation's third largest carrier. So Sprint is spending $200 million to increase capacity on its CDMA network to "accommodate more users". Sprint has already included this spending in its $6 billion capital expenditure budget for the year.

Sprint is trying to get its subscribers to move from CDMA handsets to LTE models. The carrier has already sold 1 million 4G LTE smartphones. It's been a fascinating process though, as Sprint has tried to move its iDEN subscribers to CDMA (the iDEN network will close its doors next June). Meanwhile, once on the CDMA network, the mobile operator wants to move these subscribers to LTE which right now is the end of the line. By the end of this year, 150 million POPs will be covered by Sprint's 4G LTE signal, increasing to 250 million POPs by the end of next year.

Sprint might soon have an advantage with its new sugar daddy. Once regulators sign off on Softbank's acquisition of 70% of Sprint, the carrier will have some deep pockets it will have access to allowing Sprint to pay for the completion of its LTE network.

"This is driven by the subscriber increases we have had on the Sprint platform and the increasing uptake on smartphones. So it is really more accurate to say it is to accommodate more users on our network. This spending is included in our capital expenditures guidance for the year which we lowered to less than $6 billion in 2012 (from $6 billion), excluding capitalized interest in our recent earnings call."-Scott Sloatt, Sprint Spokesman

source: FierceWireless

20 Comments
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posted on 08 Nov 2012, 20:14 7

1. Mark.J.Linskiy (unregistered)


I think Sprint is making some smart decisions which will benefit the consumer, such as myself. Hope all goes well, with LTE and 3G.

posted on 08 Nov 2012, 20:15

2. XPERIA-KNIGHT (Posts: 2384; Member since: 08 Aug 2012)


will boost and virgin mobile 3g have faster speeds from this or not?

posted on 09 Nov 2012, 00:16

15. tuminatr (Posts: 637; Member since: 23 Feb 2009)


had to say exactley if sprint put any restriction on virgin customers but concidering they use the sprint network it will probibly help

posted on 09 Nov 2012, 13:36

19. Contreramanjaro (Posts: 153; Member since: 04 Dec 2011)


Boost and Virgin have a lower priority on the network but any improvements should help them out as well.

posted on 08 Nov 2012, 20:18 2

3. mas11 (Posts: 1014; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)


That says a lot about their current 3G network. While AT&T and Verizon are pouring hundreds of millions into Late to make those networks as good as their 3G networks Sprint is playing catch up.

posted on 08 Nov 2012, 21:07 1

8. wumberpeb (Posts: 406; Member since: 14 Mar 2011)


Sprint hasn't had the luxury of money the past few years, what did you expect? They've also had roughly half the subscribers as the other 2. Of course they're playing catchup

posted on 08 Nov 2012, 21:16

9. mas11 (Posts: 1014; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)


*Lte damn auto-correct haha

posted on 08 Nov 2012, 22:15 2

11. lsutigers (Posts: 670; Member since: 08 Mar 2009)


This $200 is not all Sprint is investing in it's 3G network. This is IN ADDITION to Network Vision improvements and NV brings all new equipment with increased capacity to 3G as well as 4G LTE. In these last 2 years it's taking Sprint to upgrade ALL 3G and 4G LTE, which is faster than both AT&T and VZW for similar coverage areas, they are investing billions in their networks.

posted on 08 Nov 2012, 20:19

4. Kaze105 (Posts: 19; Member since: 15 Feb 2012)


If this upgrade is dont fairly soon or at the longest within 1 year, I think its a smart choice for Sprint. Having insanely bad 3G speed and coverage is the reason why I stay away from them. If they can at least give me Verizon 3G speeds, I will easily change to them.

posted on 09 Nov 2012, 00:20 1

16. tuminatr (Posts: 637; Member since: 23 Feb 2009)


depends where you live, in Minnesota, North Dakota where they have coverage and Wisconsin they are good but I was in Charlotte North Carolina last year and holy balls did the network suck

posted on 08 Nov 2012, 20:32 1

5. KFear (Posts: 135; Member since: 06 Feb 2012)


A good move for Sprint. The problem is that roll-outs are ungodly slow for the carrier. That might have to do with budgets, however. I'm sticking with Sprint the whole way...but, man, i'm tired of "almost" and then just stopping there.

posted on 08 Nov 2012, 20:52 1

6. theBankRobber (Posts: 642; Member since: 22 Sep 2011)


Please, got a email about them building my network for better this and better that but still got 2 damn bars in my house. Don't matter how they sell it, Sprint still is a crappy network.

posted on 08 Nov 2012, 20:56 1

7. scsa852k (Posts: 257; Member since: 16 Oct 2012)


Good, because their 3G speed is almost non-existent.

posted on 08 Nov 2012, 22:15 1

10. johnbftl (Posts: 163; Member since: 09 Jun 2012)


I mentioned their data network speeds being an issue a while back in another article and someone told me I didn't know what I was talking about. Apparently now that phone arena makes it news all of a sudden everyone has something to say about how bad Sprint's network is. I used to be a territory rep for Sprint handling indirect retail channels like Best Buy and Radioshack. I know a lot about a lot of their issues.

posted on 08 Nov 2012, 22:20 1

12. lsutigers (Posts: 670; Member since: 08 Mar 2009)


It's not bad in all markets, in fact, Sprint's 3G runs over 1mbps+ in many markets but the ones that have issues with slower speeds are being worked on, as well as the ones that don't have speed issues as they are re-building their entire network 3G and 4G LTE nationwide.

posted on 08 Nov 2012, 22:36 1

13. ojdidit84 (Posts: 190; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)


No, there used to be a lot of people being vocal about Sprint's network issues. I was one of them. 3G data went to hell shortly after the first Evo and Epic came to Sprint. At one point my 3G DL speeds wouldn't reach over 50kbps. Left and went to Verizon.

Sprint's making all the right moves, albeit quite a bit behind the big 2 but they haven't exactly had the cash to barely maintain their networks, let alone make many improvements.

posted on 09 Nov 2012, 00:39 3

17. wumberpeb (Posts: 406; Member since: 14 Mar 2011)


Hold up guys, we got an expert here. Indirect sales rep must also mean RF Engineer

posted on 11 Nov 2012, 19:40

20. EvoHero (Posts: 38; Member since: 15 May 2011)


Those guys have access to much more information about the network as a whole than the engineers.

I'm sorry, what were YOUR qualifications again?

posted on 08 Nov 2012, 23:15 2

14. Googlethis (Posts: 168; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


Good work sprint I like your service keep it up

posted on 09 Nov 2012, 11:48

18. GeekMovement (Posts: 1497; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)


If they support the west coast a bit more that would be great.

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