The company has awarded contracts to Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and Samsung to bring Network Vision to life by implementing multimode technology to enhance service - coverage, quality and speed - create network flexibility, reduce operating costs and improve environmental sustainability. The scope of the arrangement between Sprint and these vendors includes purchases of hardware, software and services. The awarded suppliers will deploy technology expected to bring Sprint customers an overall enhanced network experience and deliver financial value to Sprint.
Sprint Nextel promised to save up to $11 billion in the next seven years from the network restructuring that involves eventually getting rid of the iDen network it bought from Nextel in 2005.
Today, Sprint uses separate equipment to deploy services on 800MHz spectrum, 1.9GHz spectrum and, through its relationship with Clearwire, 2.5GHz spectrum. Under the terms of the new contracts, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and Samsung will install new network equipment and software that brings together multiple spectrum bands, or airwaves, on a single, multimode base station.
The base stations will allow for the flexibility to offer new technologies using any of the 800MHz, 1.9GHz or 2.5GHz bands, as well as other spectrum bands. Sprint and the three companies expect to finalize the implementation schedule and begin the first stages of deployment in 2011. Completion of Network Vision across the Sprint network is expected to take from three to five years.
In addition to implementing multimode base stations, the Sprint Network Vision plan encompasses next-generation push-to-talk (PTT) with broadband capabilities and the integration of multimode chipsets into smartphones, tablets and other broadband devices, including machine-to-machine (M2M) capabilities.
Through spectrum efficiencies associated with Network Vision, Sprint intends to repurpose some of its 800MHz spectrum for CDMA service, thereby enhancing coverage. Augmenting its 1.9GHz footprint with 800MHz, Sprint expects its CDMA coverage density will increase throughout the country. More density generally equates to fewer dropped calls.
Sprint expects to launch the next-generation of PTT services in 2011 on the CDMA network, offering customers sub-second call setup time along with robust data capabilities.
As the shifting to more broadband-centric PTT applications on the CDMA network occurs, it is expected that current iDEN cell sites will be phased out. This phase out is expected to begin in 2013.