Sprint has begun launch of a new wireless high-speed data network that will provide mobile Internet access to about 150 million people in at least 60 metropolitan areas across the nation by early 2006. Sprint's new wireless high-speed data (EV-DO, Evolution Data Optimized) service, devices and applications will change how and where business is done and offer consumers an enhanced mobile multi-media experience.
Sprint is rolling out its EV-DO service initially in business corridors with high wireless-data traffic demands, such as airports and central business districts, followed by broader metropolitan areas. Service will begin during July in major airports and business districts in 34 markets. As the roll-out continues, access will be available to approximately 92 million people in 14 broadly deployed metropolitan areas in the third quarter. By the fourth quarter, another 36 metro areas will be launched, so that service will be available to approximately 143 million people. By early 2006, the high-speed wireless data service will be available on a variety of devices throughout at least 200 urban and suburban markets in approximately 60 metropolitan areas.
Information on Sprint's EV-DO service availability, devices and coverage plans can be found at http://www.sprint.com/wirelesshighspeeddata .
Sprint also revealed a flexible pricing plan for two EV-DO-ready Sprint PCS Connection Cards(TM) - the AirCard(R) 580 by Sierra Wireless and the Merlin S620(TM) by Novatel Wireless(TM) - that are available through business sales and retail channels. For business customers, pricing starts at $40 per month for 40MB with a price cap at $90 for those months when customers use the service more. Sprint also will offer an unlimited access plan through business sales channels for $80 per month. All prices exclude taxes and certain Sprint surcharges. For complete information regarding consumer pricing plans starting at $40 per month, please visit your nearest Sprint Store or log on to http://www.sprintpcs.com for details. These cards, which operate on the 1xRTT Sprint nationwide PCS network when outside of EV-DO service areas, have a suggested retail price of $249.99 less contract credits and instant savings.
Sprint plans to introduce EV-DO handsets and applications for consumers and business customers in the fourth quarter.
"Satisfying and meeting customer needs for mobile data service is all about having the broadest range of connectivity choices and providing the best overall mobile data experience," said Len Lauer, president and chief operating officer - Sprint. "The EV-DO service launch increases the ways Sprint customers can connect when mobile and augments a unique remote access service portfolio consisting of the nationwide PCS 1xRTT network and more than 19,000 Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) access points in prime locations. Through network convergence, customers can get all the access solutions they need by harnessing the benefits of Sprint's diverse wireless networks."
The Sprint EV-DO service provides a broadband-like wireless data experience that is up to 10 times faster than 1xRTT service, with average download speeds of 400-700 kbps and a peak rate of up to 2.0 Mbps. Users can experience faster downloading when accessing the Internet and retrieving e-mails, including large attachments and other bandwidth-intensive applications. The EV-DO service enables improved audio and video capabilities for entertainment services, like streaming TV and music; gaming; video conferencing; and enhanced messaging.
The new EV-DO service is expected to fuel additional growth in Sprint's growing lineup of wireless data services, an area in which Sprint is an industry leader. Wireless data revenue grew 14 percent for Sprint in the first quarter 2005 and represented approximately 10 percent of customer service revenue.
"Mobile users are demanding more than just network speed, but want a combined offering that includes a fast, reliable and cost-efficient service with business services and applications that drive value into their businesses," said Phillip Redman, vice president of Research - Gartner, Inc. "Most companies want a partner that is interested in helping them with the new technology and provide value-added services beyond just being a technology provider."
The high-speed wireless service launch is an outgrowth of ongoing network improvements. Last December, Sprint announced a multi-year commitment of $3 billion dollars for network enhancements, which included the EV-DO service as well as its next generation Release A upgrade.