Sprint Building Out LTE in 200+ Cities
Sprint currently has the new 4G technology available in 32 towns and cities in the U.S. and intends to have the service in 115 cities in "the coming months. Construction for 4G is now happening in more than 200 cities," noted Steve Elfman, Sprint's president of network operations and wholesale, during the call.
"We have 20,000 Network Vision sites leased and 13,500 ready for construction," he said. Nearly 4,300 of the upgraded 3G and 4G sites are now live.
Vendor delays It hasn't been easy going, though. "We have seen some delays from our vendors largely due to logistics and supply concerns," Elfman said, adding that hurricanes in the U.S. in the summer also slowed the build-out.
Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Samsung Corp. are Sprint's suppliers for Network Vision. As we noted in July, Ericsson was the vendor that built out all of Sprint's initial 15 LTE sites. (See Sprint & Vendors Lagging on LTE Build?, Sprint's 4G LTE Scramble and Sprint's First to Deploy Alcatel-Lucent's lightRadio .) Nonetheless, CEO Dan Hesse lauded the progress while noting that Sprint is unlikely to raise prices on its LTE service for the time being.
"It would be risky to raise prices when we're still at a 4G network disadvantage," Hesse said. "We intend to close that gap." (See Deciding On a 4G Operator for Your iPad Mini for the latest on LTE deployments in the U.S.)
Nextel losses continue Sprint lost a total of 456,000 monthly contract customers during the quarter. The operator added 410,000 monthly customers on its Sprint network, but lost 866,000 on its Nextel iDEN network. The company noted that it "recaptured" 516,000 of those customers and converted them to Sprint.
Hesse noted that "recapturing" departing Nextel customers is a "priority" for Sprint. Closing down Nextel's iDEN network is crucial for the operator as it needs the 800MHz spectrum the network uses for LTE. Network guy Elfman said the company is on track to sunset iDEN by mid-2013.
The numbers Sprint posted a loss of US$767 million, or $0.26 cents a share, on revenue of $8.76 billion, compared with a loss of $301 million, or $0.10 a share, on revenue of $8.33 billion in the same quarter the previous year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had been predicting a loss of $0.42 for the third quarter.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile