Sprint has turned up 16 more 2.5GHz LTE markets, bringing its total to 62 markets covering more than 100 million people.
Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s Chief Network Officer John Saw announced the new markets, which include Charlotte, N.C., and Indianapolis, Ind., in a blog post Wednesday. The carrier now covers 552 markets and 260 million people total with its LTE network, primarily in the 1.9GHz band -- but it has been working to turn up more of its amassed 800MHz and 2.5GHz spectrum to improve coverage and boost speeds. (See Sprint Promises 180Mbit/s 'Peaks' in 2015.)
In addition to announcing the new markets, Saw used the blog post to highlight Sprint's positive network milestones in 2014, a year that has seen more negative headlines and change for the carrier than anything. They include:
- finishing the rip-and-replace of its 3G 1.9GHz network in July (See Sprint Sparks to Reduce Churn, Save Unlimited.)
- rolling out HD voice nationwide in July; Sprint now has 24.2 million HD voice capable devices in use among its customers (See Sprint's Hesse: HD Voice Goes Nationwide in July .)
- beginning deployment of its tri-mode Sprint Spark LTE network (See Sprint Sparks Up Vendors for Faster 4G LTE.)
- reaching 100 million people with the 2.5GHz LTE spectrum it acquired from Clearwire before the end of the year (See Sprint: LTE TDD Speed Boost Coming Soon.)
- expanding its Rural Roaming Preferred Provider program to include 27 carriers and plans to reach 27 states with LTE (See Sprint Adds First 12 LTE Rural Roaming Partners.)
While its network improvements continue at a steady clip, Sprint still has a lot of work ahead of it. Among many changes, SoftBank Corp. has brought in one of its own network lead Junichi Miyakawa to help Saw and Sprint CTO Stephen Bye tackle the challenge. (See More Executive Shake-Ups at Sprint and SoftBank Man Joins Sprint as Technical COO.)
Saw said that Sprint will continue to expand its 2.5GHz LTE coverage in cities across the countries, prioritizing highly trafficked areas, in the new year. At the same time, it's continuing to build out LTE in the 800MHz bands to improve indoor coverage.
"Today we're halfway there, and we expect to be substantially complete with our LTE 800MHz build by the end of 2015 in markets where the spectrum is available," Saw writes, adding that Sprint plans to use advanced techniques like "carrier aggregation for higher speeds, 8T8R radios for enhanced coverage and multi-antenna processing techniques like MIMO for higher capacity, along with tri-band LTE Sprint Spark devices for our best high speed data experience for our customers."
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading