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