Thursday, May 10th, 2012
Sprint this morning held a briefing for analysts and media on its Network Vision strategy. Although there were no new announcements made, the company provided updates on its progress in transforming its network.

Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum, has the following reaction:

An impressive, yet complex, network transition

"There are always two ways of looking at these updates. On the one hand, what Sprint is attempting to achieve is an enormously complex and messy set of simultaneous transitions, including the decommissioning of its iDEN network, rollout of LTE, expansion and performance improvements on CDMA, and eventual winding down of WiMAX (through Clearwire). Making things even more complicated, Sprint is deploying LTE in three separate spectrum bands, two through its own holdings and one through Clearwire's spectrum. Sprint is suffering as a result of two decisions made in the past - the poorly conceived and executed merger with Nextel, and the short-sighted choice of WiMAX as a 4G technology.

On the other hand, Sprint's strategy and plan for this transition is impressive. It is moving very rapidly to execute on this plan, and progress to date has been quick and effective. However, the risk of such a rapid rollout is that there will be problems post-launch, as we have already seen with Verizon Wireless, so we will have to wait until after launch to see how the network fares. Some 9500 sites are in the works for the Network Vision rollout, while some 9600 iDEN sites will be decommissioned as Sprint thins its network footprint there in response to a dramatic drop in customers over the past few years. It is planning to move its iDEN customers onto a CDMA based alternative for push to talk, although competitors such as AT&T are readying competing offerings which will be targeted at dissatisfied former iDEN customers.

Battling the legacy of WiMAX

"All of this means that Sprint will be launching LTE this summer, months after AT&T and years after Verizon Wireless (though ahead of T-Mobile, whose plans were put on hold as its merger with AT&T was pending). There will be significant risks in terms of customer confusion as Sprint has to educate customers on the new meaning of 4G as it moves from WiMAX to LTE, and Sprint's early mover advantage on 4G will be eroded entirely as this happens. It will be going from being the first to deploy a technology marketed as 4G (WiMAX) to being one of the last carriers to deploy the 4G technology of choice (LTE)."

To speak to Ovum in regards to these or any other news stories, please contact the below representatives in your time zone.

US - Sundev Johal: +1 917 744 0961, [email protected]

EMEA - Claire Booty: +44 20 7017 7916, [email protected]

APAC - Jennifer Duraisingam: +61 (3) 9601 6723, [email protected]

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Ovum provides clients with independent and objective analysis that enables them to make better business and technology decisions. Our research draws upon over 400,000 interviews a year with business and technology, telecoms and sourcing decision-makers, giving Ovum and our clients unparalleled insight not only into business requirements but also the technology that organisations must support. Ovum is an Informa business.
Jennifer Duraisingam
P: +61 3 9601 6723


Network Vision , LTE, Sprint, CTIA 2012



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