As 2006 comes to a close, Sprint is putting the finishing touches on a year of significant network investments and initiatives to enhance the customer experience.
This year, Sprint added thousands of cell sites and enhancements to its Nationwide Sprint PCS NetworkSM and National Nextel NetworkSM, led the U.S. telecommunications industry in deploying EV-DO Revision A technology, continued to invest heavily in its IP assets and announced its plans for WiMAX deployment next year.
"Sprint clearly understands that its customers expect access to powerful networks where they live, work, travel and play," said Kathy Walker, chief network officer. "As Sprint enters 2007, our customers can expect to see the same dedication to network improvements and quality from us as they did in 2006. It's a never-ending effort that our Sprint teams eagerly accept."
By the end of 2006, Sprint will have spent almost $7 billion, most of which has gone to enhance its wireless and IP networks. Across the country, thousands of cities received the benefit of this major investment.
The following is a summary of major network achievements from Sprint in 2006:
Network Coverage and Capacity Improvements
Before the end of the year, Sprint will have added more than 3,000 cell sites to its Nationwide Sprint PCS Network and National Nextel Network in large, medium and small markets across the country. To help current and prospective customers view coverage information, Sprint launched its Power Network Coverage Tool in early October. This online tool provides detailed coverage maps down to the street address level. By entering an address or ZIP code, customers can check the availability of wireless coverage, recently added cell sites and the network signal strength on the Nextel National Network, Nationwide Sprint PCS Network or Sprint Mobile Broadband Network. The tool is available at www.sprint.com/coverage and at self-service touch-screen kiosks at many Sprint Nextel retail stores.
Sprint Expands the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network and EV-DO Rev. A
Sprint offers the largest wireless broadband network of any carrier through the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network, which reaches more than 188 million people across the country and covers more than 8,700 cities and 780 airports. In late October, Sprint upgraded the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network to high-speed EV-DO (Evolution Data Optimized) Revision A technology in San Diego, the first U.S. market to receive EV-DO Rev. A. Since then, EV-DO Rev. A coverage has expanded to nearly 2,900 cities and nearly 67 million people -- which surpassed the previously announced goal of 40 million people by the end of the year.
With EV-DO Rev. A, Sprint Mobile Broadband users should experience average upload speeds about five to six times faster (300-400 kbps compared with 50-70 kbps) than current EV-DO networks. Average download speeds should also increase to 450-800 kbps from 400-700 kbps. The upgrade to EV-DO Rev. A is expected to further drive Sprint's wireless data leadership. Customers will be able to use the upgraded network for such applications as all-IP video telephony, high-performance push-to-talk (walkie-talkie service), multi-user video conferencing, real-time gaming and video streaming as they become available. Sprint is the first and only service provider to offer EV-DO Rev. A to customers in the United States.
Sprint announced its plans in early August to develop the first fourth generation (4G) nationwide mobile broadband network and deploy it in initial markets in 2007. A nationwide rollout is targeted for 2008. The 4G wireless broadband network will use the mobile WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) IEEE 802.16e-2005 technology standard. These efforts are intended to enable Sprint customers to experience a nationwide mobile data network designed to offer faster speeds, lower costs, greater convenience and enhanced multimedia quality. The Sprint Nextel 4G mobility network will use the company's extensive 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings, which cover 85 percent of the households in the top 100 U.S. markets.
Sprint continued its strong commitment in 2006 to its Tier 1 IP network, Next-Generation Voice Network (NGVN) and wireless-wireline converged services, which all play a key role in the Sprint Cable Joint Venture. Cable Voice over IP (VoIP) subscribers more than doubled year over year in the third quarter, and Sprint expects continued impressive growth in this area. Similarly, explosive growth in Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) was evident, with Sprint's net revenues from MPLS nearly tripling year over year in the third quarter.
Continuing on a 2006 launch, the deployment of next-generation Cisco CRS-1 routers will enable Sprint to scale the IP core network to address expected customer demands as IP increasingly becomes the basis of many communications services. By the end of 2007, most U.S. core sites are expected to have a Cisco CRS-1 system. Sprint is the first Tier 1 IP provider to place the Cisco CRS-1 into service.
"For our Sprint teams that are dedicated to ensuring our powerful wireless and IP networks are second to none, we understand the kind of commitment necessary to achieve our goals," said Walker, summarizing the 2006 network investments. "Sprint customers can expect to see this same kind of dedication to excellence as we continue to roll out more network improvements and industry-leading services in 2007."