Friday, March 31, 2006

Sprint Nextel Readies 3G Upgrade

E-Commerce Times reports that Sprint Nextel "announced aggressive plans for the expansion of its 3G network, which now covers over half of the U.S. population with mobile broadband data services. By the end of 2006, the high-speed wireless network is expected to reach an estimated 190 million people nationwide and in Puerto Rico, making it the largest mobility network."

Sprint is planning to upgrade its network to EV-DO Revision A that will provide downloads and uploads up to 10 times faster to "enable richer applications and services such as high-speed video telephony, music on demand, video messaging, large file uploads and high performance push-to-talk capability."

Yankee Group analyst Gene Signorini believed Sprint had "an aggressive plan to achieve mobile broadband service leadership by broadening its footprint and deploying advanced technology that drives mobility." He said, "This announcement keeps Sprint in the forefront in meeting the demand for mobility services. Given the importance of high-speed data services as a revenue source, this is a bold and rewarding move."

The U.S. 3G market is heating up as Verizon plans to roll out its EV-DO Revision A upgrade at some point while Cingular expands "its higher speed coverage to most major U.S. metropolitan areas this year."

JupiterResearch analyst Michael Gartenberg said, "Everyone is moving in a race to get consumers onto the faster networks and take advantage of those enhanced services, so look to continue to see more of these types of announcements in the future. It will be interesting to see what the competition announces next week [at the] CTIA Wireless Show."

Bob Egan at TowerGroup thought Sprint's aggressive move "should further accelerate the company's momentum in wireless broadband services." He said, "Enterprises and consumers alike have an insatiable appetite for network access availability, speed and quality. This is an important move by a company who is very serious about raising the industry bar and meeting the important and dynamic requirements of its business and consumer constituencies."