Sprint will reportedly be drastically increasing the amount of capital it spends building out its network next year, according to statements made by the company's CEO Marcelo Claure during a call with investors. His comments on the matter follow commentary from Sprint's parent company, Softbank, which indicated the company's intention to increase its stake in the U.S. cell service provider by a further 2-percent and to triple capital expenditures to between $5 and $6 billion. However, Sprint's CEO went a bit further with his own most recent remarks, stating he views capital expenditures between $5 and $6 billion as being on the "low end" as compared to what the company will actually spend on its network. Claure also admitted that the company has learned some hard lessons over the past several years about what works and what doesn't when it comes to the use of small cells for network densification, saying that the new investments should make the carrier's partners in the tower industry "very happy."
Claure's statements seem to suggest that a substantial portion of spending be put towards a renewed effort to update and install new traditional cell sites, as well as a continuation of small cell deployment where suitable. By comparison to other service providers, the new capital expenditures figure still falls somewhat short but are somewhat higher than the company's previously reported expenditures expectations for the 2017 fiscal year – which are currently expected to fall in somewhere around $3.5 billion to $4 billion.
However, the move to increase capital expenditures, particularly in terms of direct network improvement spending, still makes quite a lot of sense. That's with consideration for the recently failed merger attempt between Sprint and T-Mobile. The merger could potentially have acted as a buffer for some of the Sprint's long-term network improvement goals – decreasing the amount of capital the company needed to invest to keep up with rivals in the industry and allowing Sprint to put more focus on paying down its debts. With that said, Claure also reiterated that the company is well-placed to address its debt over the next several years, despite the failed merger. Increased spending on network improvements may prove to be a starting point with regard to regaining position in the highly-competitive U.S. mobile market.