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Sprint Acknowledges Network Upgrades Behind Schedule
Though Company Insists They're Speeding Up
by Karl Bode 08:34AM Friday Feb 08 2013
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse this morning confirmed that Sprint's a little further behind on LTE than they had hoped to be at this point. "We are behind our original objectives with Network Vision," stated Hesse on a conference call with press and analysts. On the same call, Sprint President of Network Operations Steve Elfman stated the company's plan to deploy LTE on 800MHz has been bumped up to the fourth quarter of this year. Sprint expects to have 200 million potential customers covered with LTE by year's end.

Tammy Parker over at Fierce Wireless directs my attention to some internal correspondence leaked by Sprint that suggests things should start speeding up soon. Sprint's been adding about 10 new (mostly small) markets a month with their build, but according to an internal Sprint Q&A with Sprint's Chad Elliott posted by S4GRU, Sprint is picking up the pace as they deal with some of the associated headaches of tower upgrades. That alone is not surprising, but the document highlights some of the headaches Sprint has faced:
Bottom line is that the rollout of Network Vision is not easy; it is a very complex rollout. We have tens of thousands of towers that we need to modify and each one has its own unique characteristics....One example at a site is that the local municipality would not allow the crew to finish repainting a water tower because it was too humid. In cases like this, Sprint doesn’t have control over that, so the crew just had to wait until they got the go ahead to continue.
Sprint currently offers LTE in parts of 58 markets, but has begun deployment in more than 450 cities. About 170 additional markets are arriving in the "coming months," insists Sprint. Sprint's big problem right now (if you're a Sprint user with a shiny LTE device you're incapable of using) is they keep focusing on tiny markets, and promised major league markets like New York keep failing to materialize.

Sprint keeps saying these major markets are arriving in the "coming months," but according to Sprint employees, "coming months" in Sprint's lexicon actually means half a year.

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