February 10, 2015

Sprint’s Network Gets Back in the Game

Dr. John Saw, Chief Network Officer
Last week on our earnings call, we made it clear that building a more competitive network is our number one priority. I thought I’d share with you more detail about our game plan – but first, let’s take a quick look at how far we’ve come.

RootMetrics® has released its 2H14 National RootScore® report and we’re pleased to see the improvement Sprint has made. Network Vision was a complex and difficult upgrade of our cell sites, and it took longer than anticipated. But the wait is over and the improvements are becoming tangible – we’re no longer bringing up the rear in Overall Performance nationwide. Additionally, RootMetrics Metro RootScore report results show we hold the highest net gain among all carriers in first or shared first-place second half 2014 RootScore award wins for Overall, Reliability, Call and Text network performance. The results also show Sprint moved up in RootScore Award rankings in almost every metro market measured.1 While we still have a lot of work to do, particularly in the area of data performance and speed, we’re clearly headed in the right direction.

Reaching more customers with LTE has been key to providing a better experience. Today we now cover more than 270 million people with 4G LTE, including 125 million with 2.5GHz, the spectrum band we use for faster data speeds. Our previously stated 2.5GHz goal was 100 million people by the end of 2014, and I’m proud that our team exceeded this important milestone. They clearly knocked it out of the park!  Later this month our coverage maps will show our faster 2.5GHz speeds in portions of places like  Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, Nashville, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, and Washington D.C.  In addition, we now have 800MHz LTE on air across more than 60% of our LTE footprint, which means our in-building performance is dramatically better.

My first year at Sprint has been primarily focused on strengthening the core functions of our network. With the deployment of 800MHz voice services nationwide, coupled with an unrelenting focus on network performance optimization, we have greatly improved the quality of our voice service. According to Nielsen, we’re seeing a more than 50% year-over-year improvement in dropped call rates, bringing them to our lowest levels ever.

Going forward we have three areas of focus in order to deliver the consistent reliability, capacity, and speed that our customers demand.  These areas include:

Optimize the Network
We remain laser-focused on the fundamentals to improve the consistency and reliability of the network. In 2014, we reorganized ourselves and moved our best talents into the regions to be closer to our cell sites and customers. This move has enabled us to be more nimble and take a more surgical approach to each and every cell site.
Densify and Expand our LTE Footprint
This year we will significantly increase coverage and capacity as we build new sites across all of our spectrum bands (800MHz, 1.9GHz, and 2.5GHz), including adding macro sites and small cells. Our goal is to finish the 800MHz LTE build by the end of this year where rebanding is complete. This will greatly enhance our LTE coverage and in-building performance, and it also provides us with an additional layer of capacity across our network.  We’ve already seen immediate improvements in the consistency and reliability of LTE performance in markets where we’ve turned up 800MHz. As for our 2.5GHz deployment, we remain fully committed to bringing its data speed capabilities and immense capacity to customers across the country.  With the addition of new LTE density sites to existing Network Vision sites, we are poised to unleash the true potential of our deep 2.5GHz spectrum. 
Lastly, with a new multi-modal platform upon which to innovate, we will leverage technology developments such as carrier aggregation. By combining TDD and FDD LTE across all of our spectrum bands we can build the big pipes we need to offer better performance and faster speeds.  In addition, our expected transition to an all-IP-based platform will provide a path for deploying VoLTE and unlock new potential for services that delight our customers.
We have an incredible amount of work ahead, but I’m confident we have the right plan, the right team, and the right assets to compete. And clearly, we have momentum. 2015 is off to a great start and I look forward to keeping you updated on our progress.

Related Links:
RootMetrics 2nd Half 2014 US Mobile Network Performance Review
RootMetrics Press Release

1RootMetrics award rankings based on RootMetrics 2H 2014 US National and 125 Metro RootScore Reports (July – December 2014) for mobile performance as tested on best available plans and devices on 4 mobile networks across all available network types. The RootMetrics award is not an endorsement of Sprint. Your results may vary. See rootmetrics.com for details.
2 Based on analysis by Sprint using syndicated independent, 3rd party field drive test information supplied by Nielsen 2007 -2014 as of Dec. 31, 2014. Historical drop call data based on top 50 most populous markets (2007-2010) & top 100 most populous markets (2011-2014).  Quarter index values are based on market results reported within each period; not all Markets are reported each quarter.  For the 2013 for 2014 year over year improvement, Sprint created National values using an average of reported Market-level drop call rates for the top 100 most populous Markets tested at the end of 2013 compared to the end of 2014.


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