Sprint has detailed its plans to improve its network in a recent brokers conference. This comes after the carrier increased its budget for capital expenditures to $6 billion for the fiscal year 2018 compared to the $4 billion spent on the network the year before. However, Tarek Robbiati, the company's chief financial officer, pointed out that the decision to boost capital expenditures was made prior to the merger talks with T-Mobile since a substantial investment on the network should be made in order to properly facilitate the merger discussions.
A portion of the budget will be spent in building thousands of new base stations across the country. The carrier admitted that there are neighborhoods that the company's existing network footprint does not cover. In addition, each station will be upgraded to support all of the carrier's LTE frequencies, which are the 800MHz, 1900MHz, and the 2500MHz. At this point, only 50 percent of Sprint's towers, serving 70 percent of the population, support the 2.5GHz LTE band. Deploying the 2.5GHz TD-LTE service in more towers is important for the company since it will help boost the data speeds experienced by its subscribers. Furthermore, the carrier plans to utilize the said frequency for its 5G rollout that may take place within the next few years.
Another way for the carrier plans to increase the maximum data speeds is to deploy Massive MIMO antennas. Multiple input multiple output (MIMO) antennas allow a base station to transmit and receive multiple data streams at the same time, and the Massive MIMO antenna setup contains 64 transmit elements and 64 receive elements. Sprint claims that it could enhance the capacity of the network by 10x. The company is also considering to deploy 256QAM data modulation in the future, which increases the amount of data sent over a single transmission. Other improvements that the carrier plans to make on its network include the increased installation of small cells and mini-macros. Magic Boxes, an all-wireless small cell developed by the network operator, will likely be distributed to more customers and businesses soon. Meanwhile, other cellular technologies that Sprint has already implemented on its network are beamforming and HPUE. Beamforming focuses the signal of a base station to an area where the customers are located while HPUE widens the coverage and boosts the indoor building penetration of the 2.5GHz LTE service.