Now more than ever, mobile consumers demand instant connectivity, high-speed broadband and innovative devices. And when North American operator Sprint offered its subscribers the latest smartphones with unlimited data packages, it capitalized on this trend and hit upon a recipe for success.
At the same time, it created a surge in traffic volumes that Sprint needed to manage, all while maintaining an optimal cost structure and a superior customer experience. To meet this reality, Sprint embarked on a multibillion dollar investment program called Network Vision.
Network Vision is designed not only to take Sprint "ahead of the curve" in terms of data-traffic demands, but to maintain its focus on delivering a superior customer experience while providing a cost-efficient flexible platform for future development.
"Sprint was a pioneer in next generation mobile-broadband technology. It put us on the map and was a wild success. The next step is for us to adopt a global standard: LTE ," says Sprint’s Bob Azzi, Senior Vice President for Networks. "We chose Ericsson as a partner for the network upgrade because they are a global leader in LTE , not only in terms of technology but also in terms of developing standards for that technology."
In addition to introducing LTE, the Network Vision program will reinvest in and upgrade Sprint’s 3G CDMA technology, which includes deployment at 800MHz as well as improvements to voice and data capabilities. "Our vision is based on having multi-mode base stations that have the software and hardware flexibility to take advantage of future developments, building on the strong performance of 3G," Azzi says.
Ericsson’s Ajit Bhatia, Vice President and Head of Marketing and Business Development in North America, says upgrading the network should help in ensuring customer satisfaction for years to come.
"Sprint’s customers want anytime, anywhere connectivity, without having to worry about data consumption. Network Vision will provide the foundation for Sprint to meet this need," he says.
"Today Sprint has distinct networks and technologies. Network Vision will consolidate these multiple technologies and spectrums, and deploy them on a single seamless platform to deliver improved efficiency, quality and flexibility."
Ericsson’s upgrade of the network’s 3G capabilities, introduction of 4G via LTE and management of the network is expected to go a long way in ensuring both customer satisfaction and a healthy bottom line for Sprint.
Subscribers should start to benefit from the network upgrade in late 2012, and Azzi is convinced that it will improve customer satisfaction.
"We have had 15 successive quarters of improved customersatisfaction rates," he says. "And I am sure that when our customers start to experience the benefits of the investments we are making, their satisfaction with our service will be even higher.
"We are in the enviable position of managing growth, and with the introduction of new technology to our national network, we are doing so in a sustainable and profitable way."