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Reality Check: Can Sprint restore its luster?

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Here's an article summary for those who don't want or don't have time to read it:

 

"Sprint's going to face a lot of challenges in the future! Do they have what it takes to survive and beat their way back to the top? I think we all know the answer: MAAAAAAAYBEEEE!"

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If Sprint plays there cards right, they Could be King. 

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Jim Patterson, the author of the article, is Sprint's former President of Wholesale 

 

I recall he may have been one of the exec's let go when Hesse did his last leadership consolidation.  In any regard, he does not turn down the opportunity to talk about wireless and media and was oh so eager to provide constructive criticism for sprint while we waited for the FCC to approve the softbank acquisition. 

http://www.bloomberg.com/video/sprint-facing-a-new-wireless-pivot-point-patterson-oHoyvSIuRpC40P6mwzd6Ow.html

 

Given his history and extensive knowledge of the company, I'm underwhelmed that he would pursue journalistic chops by comparing Verizon vs. Sprint coverage maps.   Despite his interest in Sprint, I don't believe he is a fan. 

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Jim Patterson, the author of the article, is Sprint's former President of Wholesale

 

I recall he may have been one of the exec's let go when Hesse did his last leadership consolidation. In any regard, he does not turn down the opportunity to talk about wireless and media and was oh so eager to provide constructive criticism for sprint while we waited for the FCC to approve the softbank acquisition.

http://www.bloomberg.com/video/sprint-facing-a-new-wireless-pivot-point-patterson-oHoyvSIuRpC40P6mwzd6Ow.html

 

Given his history and extensive knowledge of the company, I'm underwhelmed that he would pursue journalistic chops by comparing Verizon vs. Sprint coverage maps. Despite his interest in Sprint, I don't believe he is a fan.

Doesn't mean he is wrong.

 

Sent from my EVO using Tapatalk 2

 

 

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He is probably not wrong since he didn't really step out on a limb with any conclusions.

 

I don't think there is capacity in the US market for more than the two big guys. They have built out over a good chunk of the nation and I have my doubts that if Sprint or T-Mobile expand beyond highways and cities that they will make that investment back.

 

That doesn't mean I think Sprint and T-Mobile will go away, they will need to differentiate themselves from the big two in ways that no analyst will be able to predict. If they execute that strategy then they will be king.

 

Sent from my EVO using Tapatalk 4

 

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Of course they can, provide a good network that doesn't cost a fortune and that's a big chunk of it.

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Sprint's story and "luster" (as our former exec has coined it) will continue to be focused and revolve around  gradual expansion of the network in addition to meeting and exceeding the needs of the customers in its footprint.  Their strong suite is offering a value priced product that can compete with the building penetration and speed of the big two.  We aren't, however, going to get a "verizon sized" network.. and anyone waiting or rationalizing about that is wishing with the winds.  Roaming coverage will remain and further consolidation will occur, but you aren't going to find Patterson singing Sprint's praise.   

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Of course they can, provide a good network that doesn't cost a fortune and that's a big chunk of it.

I agree to a point, although does that differentiate them from T-Mobile?

 

After re-reading my original statement I really didn't do a good job writing it, my kids were breaking my train of thought way too much. Sprint and T-Mobile will still exist, and will not disappear. To dominate the other two they will need something that completely changes the cellular business.

 

Sent from my EVO using Tapatalk 4

 

 

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I agree to a point, although does that differentiate them from T-Mobile?

 

After re-reading my original statement I really didn't do a good job writing it, my kids were breaking my train of thought way too much. Sprint and T-Mobile will still exist, and will not disappear. To dominate the other two they will need something that completely changes the cellular business.

 

Sent from my EVO using Tapatalk 4

Sprint shouldn't worry about any one else, build a good network, maintain that network and the keep prices similar and the "Sprint sucks" sentiment will evaporate over time. The only thing that they need to change, in my opinion, is that they need to expand their native coverage area because with all of the rural players mostly gone, they is no one to "natively roam" on anymore.

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I agree that as long as Sprint keeps up with its network and keeps the value there for its customers, it will remain strong. They don't need to be as big as Verizon, that we just hurt them in the end since they will become that big monster in the cell industry that dominates everyone and has capacity concerns. Sprint has always been known to have good voice and has lead the industry in adopting the latest technology. Once they finish with their Network Vision modernization and keep up with their network from there, their "luster" will be a given.

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He is probably not wrong since he didn't really step out on a limb with any conclusions. I don't think there is capacity in the US market for more than the two big guys. They have built out over a good chunk of the nation and I have my doubts that if Sprint or T-Mobile expand beyond highways and cities that they will make that investment back. That doesn't mean I think Sprint and T-Mobile will go away, they will need to differentiate themselves from the big two in ways that no analyst will be able to predict. If they execute that strategy then they will be king. Sent from my EVO using Tapatalk 4

Why not simply have lower prices? ATT and Verizon worship margins. If Sprint gets meaningful 600 MHz coverage going, it's doubtful VZW, ATT would decrease prices until Sprint steals many customers. Edited by fozy22

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Well Sprint is slowly reducing coverage and increasing fees.

 

Why I get per line surcharges (Sprint fees) on the Airave is beyond me.

 

Sprint should be more honest, advertise a real plan cost + taxes.

People won't have a problem with costs and taxes if they were just honest.

 

From this month's bill.

Administrative Charge Increase
Effective 9/1/13, the Administrative Charge will increase to $1.99 per line per month for customers subject to the charge. For details on surcharges, visit sprint.com/taxesandfees and review your wireless service agreement.
 
Then Alaska coverage reduced.
Important Network Coverage Change
Effective 10/1/13, on-network coverage in Alaska will change to roaming (off-network) coverage. For details and roaming restrictions, see sprint.com/termsandconditions and for coverage details, see
sprint.com/coveragechange

 

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Well Sprint is slowly reducing coverage and increasing fees.

 

Why I get per line surcharges (Sprint fees) on the Airave is beyond me.

 

Sprint should be more honest, advertise a real plan cost + taxes.

People won't have a problem with costs and taxes if they were just honest.

 

From this month's bill.

Administrative Charge Increase

Effective 9/1/13, the Administrative Charge will increase to $1.99 per line per month for customers subject to the charge. For details on surcharges, visit sprint.com/taxesandfees and review your wireless service agreement.

 

Then Alaska coverage reduced.

 

Important Network Coverage Change

Effective 10/1/13, on-network coverage in Alaska will change to roaming (off-network) coverage. For details and roaming restrictions, see sprint.com/termsandconditions and for coverage details, see

sprint.com/coveragechange

 

According to the map the voice coverage becomes roaming hut the data coverage remains native Sprint. It'll be much like Verizon. Verizon roams in terms of voice, buy they retain native LTE service.

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Then Alaska coverage reduced.
Important Network Coverage Change
Effective 10/1/13, on-network coverage in Alaska will change to roaming (off-network) coverage. For details and roaming restrictions, see sprint.com/termsandconditions and for coverage details, see
sprint.com/coveragechange

 

 

 

That sucks, but honestly it doesn't look like they lose much in the way of 'native' coverage.

 

http://support.sprint.com/support/article/Learn_more_about_network_changes_coming_to_Alaska/7ea17025-f90b-4b44-b256-31fb3e693e4a?ECID=vanity:coveragechange&question_box=alaska%20data%20network%20and%20coverage&id16=alaska%20data%20network%20and%20coverage

 

alaska_voice_changes_071713.jpg

 

alaska_data_change_071713.jpg

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Is that because of the Nextel shutdown or something else?

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I agree that as long as Sprint keeps up with its network and keeps the value there for its customers, it will remain strong. They don't need to be as big as Verizon, that we just hurt them in the end since they will become that big monster in the cell industry that dominates everyone and has capacity concerns. Sprint has always been known to have good voice and has lead the industry in adopting the latest technology. Once they finish with their Network Vision modernization and keep up with their network from there, their "luster" will be a given.

I have a simlar attitude. Sprint should take an incremental approach to expanding their coverage footprint, and not moving to cover vast new swaths of territory (They have enough expansion to do in MT and SD/ND to cover their PCS G buildout requirements). They should try to fill in gaps in their existing coverage areas and move slowly outward from them based which areas will provide the biggest reductions in roaming costs.

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I am hoping that once NV is complete, the coverage holes in the current service area will disappear. For me, I get Sprint service just about anywhere I go, but it's the constant edge of service issue while driving that bothers me. You watch the bars decrease until you drop down to 1x RTT with zero bars and then back up constantly. My call quality is great, 3G has become a beast in reliability and speed, so once 800 mhz SMR and whatever small cells are added, I can see service being killer.

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Is that because of the Nextel shutdown or something else?

 

Nope, it has to do with Strategic Roaming Alliance (SRA) agreement that Sprint has with Alaska Digitel being modified or discontinued for reasons unknown. Though they had spectrum there, Nextel never had any coverage in Alaska.

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We can talk all we want about sprint making their network footprint larger, but at the end of the day this isn't a realistic possibility. Verizon bought large chunks of their network and those opportunities don't exist now. The overwhelming majority of cell phone subscribers don't need coverage in Podunk little towns. They need the best voice coverage and the fastest data speeds where normal people travel. I'm talking about cities and towns of more than 2k people and along major highways. That's it, and I think Sprint can do that. It's spectrum is so unique in the US market and network vision should be the piece that gets them there.

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I wouldn't have sprint if that's what my coverage was id roam my data till they cancelled me if I was in a contract.

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We can talk all we want about sprint making their network footprint larger, but at the end of the day this isn't a realistic possibility. Verizon bought large chunks of their network and those opportunities don't exist now. The overwhelming majority of cell phone subscribers don't need coverage in Podunk little towns. They need the best voice coverage and the fastest data speeds where normal people travel. I'm talking about cities and towns of more than 2k people and along major highways. That's it, and I think Sprint can do that. It's spectrum is so unique in the US market and network vision should be the piece that gets them there.

I don't think its right that people get left in the dark of technology.  Because corporate goal is to make as much money as possible with the least spending.  They can at least give them 1x.  Id be pretty pissed if there was no coverage around me. 

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According to the map the voice coverage becomes roaming hut the data coverage remains native Sprint. It'll be much like Verizon. Verizon roams in terms of voice, buy they retain native LTE service.

 

That sucks, but honestly it doesn't look like they lose much in the way of 'native' coverage.

 

That map of Alaska in the lower right has to be wrong. Why would Sprint retain pseudo-native data coverage, but not voice? If anything, I'd think it would be the opposite. The "Sprint data coverage" areas after October 1 are marked with a lighter shade of purple than either the legend or the before map, which indicates to me that that is an error.

 

Nope, it has to do with Strategic Roaming Alliance (SRA) agreement that Sprint has with Alaska Digitel being modified or discontinued for reasons unknown. Though they had spectrum there, Nextel never had any coverage in Alaska.

 

Even though there is a SID labeled as belonging to Sprint in the PRL (4500 in Fairbanks, Geo Area 15), it is true all the "native" coverage was provided through Alaska DigiTel. This is a legacy CDMA network operated by GCI, a company which has for the past few years (since buying DigiTel outright in 2008) been putting all of its resources toward their GSM-based network. The writing has been on the wall for some time that DigiTel would be phased out, and recent developments have only accelerated that process.

 

This past July, GCI closed on a merger (or "joint venture", as they prefer to call it) with Alaska Communications (which operates the state's largest CDMA network) to form the Alaska Wireless Network. The two companies decided to pool their wireless resources in order to fend off the impending build-out by Tier 1 carriers AT&T and Verizon.

 

AWN will be a GSM/EDGE/HSPA+/LTE network, with the LTE on Band 17 (700 MHz B block). Unfortunately, this presents no roaming opportunities for Sprint, other than perhaps for 4G data through a multi-band LTE device like the rumored Nexus 5.

 

AWN is currently "integrating" the two legacy CDMA networks (ACS and DigiTel), as well as adding ACS's LTE to GCI's GSM sites. This change to Sprint's contract for "on-network" roaming is likely part of that integration process. Eventually, those two CDMA networks will be shut down as customers are transitioned to AWN's GSM. I don't believe the deadline for that shutdown has been set yet, but the two companies appear to be moving quickly.

 

As one can imagine, the elimination of ACS/DigiTel would significantly reduce cell coverage in the state for Sprint and Verizon customers. Sprint's only remaining roaming partners would be Copper Valley Cellular, Americall International (which I can't find much information on, but appears to own two small licenses in Fairbanks and Juneau), and Matanuska Telephone Association. Unless MTA's coverage extends south into Anchorage, there would be zero coverage in that city. Meanwhile, both CVC and MTA have joined VZW's LRA program.

 

So unless Sprint's plan is to just wait and see what VZW's coverage will look like and roam off of them, they should start planning to put in some of their own sites, at least in the top 3 cities where nearly all the people are, and that don't appear to be covered by CVC or MTA anyway. Depending on how fast they want to move, AWN may shut down CDMA areas before VZW gets to them.

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I think we all know a lot of the SRA territory is going away. I'm surprised anyone is still surprised about reductions.  

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I think we all know a lot of the SRA territory is going away. I'm surprised anyone is still surprised about reductions.

 

Hopefully Softbank sees those as potential buyouts to expand coverage. Or maybe even LTE buildout partners.

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