Sprint is beginning an migration of their network. They will be changing their base station and radios. The ultimate goal will be to reduce the number of cell sites from 66,000 to 44,000. During this reduction of cell sites Sprint intends to take advantage of 1x advanced technology. The goal is to improve the connection with up and down with the towers, simplify the network architecture, and create an increase in the stability of in-building coverage.
Six different unnamed vendors have already provided Sprint with quotes for the network build-out. The quotes include multi-carrier equipment that will allow sprint to deploy 1x advanced and EVDO for voice and data. The carrier will also offer WIMAX, and eventually LTE via a software upgrade. Sprint also plans to increase its spectrum holdings in the 800 mhz, 1900 mhz, and 2.4 Ghz band, and migrating customers to the newly improved CDMA network. Along with this network transition will come an improvement in the CDMA network so the classic Nextel Walkie-Talkie service will be available on the CDMA network. Bob Azzi, senior VP of network with Sprint made it clear that Sprint will not force customers to migrate from IDEN to CDMA service. Sprint did not mention any future plans with IDEN, but did make mention that they will support IDEN until customers decide that they want to move.
Sprint currently holds a 54% ownership steak in Clearwire. Clearwire has been busy dropping WIMAX sites around the country lighting up cities with the first available 4G experience. Clearwire has plans to light 80 additional markets by the end of the year. There are further plans on the part of Clearwire to begin LTE trials in Phoenix.