Sprint knows its network is not perfect, in fact, Sprint’s CEO Marcelo Claure has said that it isn’t, but he is working on it. He famously said at Re/code’s CodeCon back in May that in two years, his network will be number one or two in the top 100 markets in the country. That’s a bold statement, especially when you look at where Sprint’s network is right now, according to reports from Sensorly, Root Metrics and others.
According to Jeffries analysts, Sprint’s spending on their network has slowed down – and so has AT&T – but they are expecting the spending to jump towards the end of the year when their densification plan gets into full effect. These analysts stated in a research note today, that the company is still in a planning phase, and that they’ve heard conflicting information about just how big this densification plan is actually going to be. These analysts said that deployment could begin as early as late 2015. With the project ongoing throughout 2017, and quite possibly later. Seeing as we’re talking about a network here, there will probably be a good chance that it goes on past 2017, due to unforeseen obstacles.
These Jeffries analysts went on to say in the research note: “Sprint’s current overlay work with 800 MHz and 2.5 GHz are slowing down materially in advance of the new program. As such, we expect that Sprint’s business trends might look slower for the vendors of late.”
Sprint hasn’t made their densification plan public, but I’d venture to guess that it’s a pretty big undertaking. Basically what we mean by densification, is putting in more bandwidth in dense areas. For example, the way that Verizon has worked on this is using small cells. Small Cells are basically small towers that can be affixed on top of a utility or light pole, and give extra bandwidth and signal strength to their users. Verizon has been deploying these in downtown areas, at stadiums, malls and other high traffic areas. While Sprint hasn’t said they’ll be using small cells, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were. As they are one of the more economical and fastest ways to add more bandwidth and better coverage in dense areas.