NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sprint Corp (S.N) said on Friday it has extended LTE Plus, a network improvement that offers customers its fastest network and higher data speeds to New York City and 190 other markets.
Overland Park, Kansas-based Sprint has been giving customers half-off discounts to switch to its service and cutting costs to the tune of $2.5 billion by slashing jobs and expenses, in an attempt to reverse years of customer defections and losses.
Moreover, the company has been making network upgrades to better compete with bigger rivals and draw customers to its service.
LTE Plus “gives customers more capacity so they get a much better experience,” chief technology officer John Saw said in an interview. “If they have the latest phones (compatible with Sprint’s technology), they get much higher speeds as well.”
Sprint’s LTE Plus was already available in cities such as Houston, Chicago and Las Vegas before the recent expansion. New York was the largest of the 191 new markets to receive the service. LTE Plus will be rolled out in more markets in coming months, Saw said.
The company has been under pressure to cut costs because of concerns that it was spending too much to acquire and retain customers. Sprint currently has a debt load of about $34 billion.
The company has the fourth-largest U.S. subscriber base, but has a larger trove of spectrum than its rivals AT&T Inc (T.N), Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS.O). Spectrum or wireless airwaves are a valuable resource as wireless providers work to increase their network capacity as consumers use data-heavy apps and video on mobile devices.
To give customers faster speeds and connectivity in densely populated areas such as New York, Sprint has been deploying its high-frequency or 2.5 GHz airwaves and relaying signals from big wireless towers to small cells placed on lampposts and rooftops that transmit and deliver them to users’ mobile devices.
The company is also working on adding channels to its 2.5 GHz bands to accommodate more wireless signals and increase network capacity.
Using airwaves in this way, “prepares us for 5G,” Sprint’s chief operating officer Gunther Ottendorfer, said in an interview.
5G, the next-generation of cellular technology is expected to offer 1,000-fold gains in capacity over existing networks and the potential to connect at least 100 billion devices from connected cars to machines and devices.
Sprint is not interested in selling its spectrum assets to raise funds, Saw and Ottendorfer said.
(This version of the story corrects figure in 8th paragraph to 2.5 GHz from 2.4)
Reporting by Malathi Nayak; Editng by Andrew Hay