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Sprint Nextel

Sprint Nextel Corporation () provides wireless and wireline voice and data telecommunications services to customers in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Sprint Nextel offers retail services under the Sprint, Nextel, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Assurance Wireless brands and provides wholesale wireless access to a number of Mobile Virtual Network Operators in the United States.[1] At the end of 2011, the Sprint wireless network served more than 55 million end users, giving Sprint Nextel approximately half the subscribers of either of its two larger rivals, AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless with about 100 million subscribers each.[2][3]

Sprint Nextel's headquarters are located in Overland Park, Kansas, United States. Dan Hesse is the President and C.E.O.

Sprint is a tier 1 global Internet access service provider. Sprint Nextel is the Unites States' third largest long distance provider by subscribers.

Sprint Nextel operates two separate wireless networks, one using the CDMA radio interface and one using the iDEN radio interface. In 2009, Sprint reached an agreement to outsource management of its wireless networks to Ericsson. In 2012 Sprint amended it's previously announced "Network Vision" plan which will decommission the iDen network, then refarm Sprint Nextel's spectrum assets, deploying updated CDMA network equipment and FDD LTE network equipment to increase coverage, network capacity and data throughput speeds while reducing base station complexity and power consumption.

In 2006, the Sprint Nextel exited the local landline telephone business, spinning those assets off into a newly created company named Embarq, which CenturyTel acquired in 2008.

Sprint owns a 47.1% interest in Clearwire Corporation and an 18% interest in NII Holdings, which operates under the Nextel brand in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru.[4]

Sprint Nextel launched the first 4G phone available in the United States, the HTC Evo 4G, on June 4, 2010.

Prior to 2005, the company was known as Sprint Corporation. The company took its current name, Sprint Nextel Corporation, when it merged with Nextel Communications that year.

Contents


History

Foundation and early years

Sprint Nextel traces its origins to the Brown Telephone Company, which was founded in 1899 by Cleson L. (C.L.) Brown and Jacob Brown to deploy telephone service to the rural area around Abilene, KS. The Browns installed their first long-distance circuit in 1900 and chartered their own company in October 1902.

In March 1903, they joined with 14 other Kansas independents to incorporate the Union Telephone and Telegraph Company, which would provide long-distance service to Kansas City.

In September 1911, C.L. Brown consolidated the Brown Telephone Company with three other independents to form the second largest telephone company in Kansas, the United Telephone Company, which controlled seven major telephone exchanges.

Growth

C.L. Brown formed United Telephone and Electric (UT&E) in 1925 in order to purchase stock in subsidiary companies across widely scattered geographical areas. Brown's UT&E eventually controlled more than 68 other companies, more than two-thirds of which were telephone companies.

Bankruptcy and reorganization

The Great Depression caused more than three million telephone subscribers to give up their phone service between 1931 and 1933. Consequently, UT&E suffered severe financial strain and had to seek protection to reorganize under bankruptcy laws. All but six of UT&E's 85 companies survived, with some showing profits again in 1936. During the reorganization, a number of companies were merged and later phased out. The reorganization plan received final approval in late 1937.

UT&E was dissolved, and its assets were placed in a newly formed company, United Utilities, Incorporated, in 1938.

United Telecommunications (United Telecom)

United Telephone System logo until 1987 When Paul H. Henson became president of United Utilities in 1964, he almost immediately reorganized the company in accordance with C.L. Brown s belief that centralizing some of the company s functions would result in greater efficiency, cost reductions, and growth. In 1972, United Utilities changed its name to United Telecommunications, commonly referred to as United Telecom. In 1980, United Telecom launched a national X.25 data service, Uninet. To enter the long-distance voice market, United Telecom acquired ISACOMM in 1981 and US Telephone in 1984. In 1983, United Telecom began offering cellular telephone services in their territories under the brand name Telespectrum.

Sprint

Wallet card with access info summary Southern Pacific Communications Company (SPC), a unit of the Southern Pacific Railroad, began providing long-distance telephone service after the Execunet II decision late in 1978. SPC was headquartered on Adrian Court in Burlingame, California, where Sprint still maintains a technology laboratory.

Southern Pacific maintained an extensive microwave communications system along its rights-of-way that the railroad used for internal communications. After the Execunet II decision, Southern Pacific expanded its internal communications network by laying fiber optic cables along the same rights-of-way. In 1972, Southen Pacific Communications began selling surplus system capacity to corporations for use as private lines, circumventing AT&T's then-monopoly on public telephony. Prior attempts at offering long distance voice services had not been approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), although a fax service (called SpeedFAX) was permitted.

SPC was only permitted to provide private lines, not switched services. When MCI Communications released Execunet, SPC took the FCC to court to get the right to offer switched services, and succeeded (the "Execunet II" decision). They decided they needed a new name to differentiate the switched voice service from SpeedFAX, and ran an internal contest to select one. The winning entry was "Sprint", an acronym for Switched PRIvate Network Telecommunications.

The Sprint service was first marketed in six metropolitan areas: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Anaheim. The switches were located in Los Angeles and New York. A customer was required to have a private line connection to one of these switches in order to use the service and paid an access fee per private line. Access was also available by dialing an access number to connect to the SPRINT switch. Customers were then billed at 2.6 cents per tenth of a minute increment.

Consolidation and re-branding to Sprint Corporation

In 1982, SPC and GTE entered into merger negotiations, and in 1983, they merged under the name "GTE Sprint".

Sprint Corporation brand mark (1987-2005)
Sprint Corporation brand mark (1987-2005)
GTE had previously acquired a national X.25 provider, Telenet, in 1979. In 1986, GTE Sprint and Telenet merged with the United Telecom properties US Telecom, Uninet, and ISACOMM, forming US Sprint. This was initially a joint venture co-owned by GTE and United Telecom. In 1988, United Telecom sold Telespectrum to Centel to fund the purchase of an additional 30% of US Sprint. This purchase gave United Telecom operational control of US Sprint.

In 1989, United Telecom purchased a controlling interest, and in 1991, it completed its acquisition of US Sprint. In 1992, United Telecommunications adopted the nationally recognized identity of its long distance unit, changing its name to Sprint Corporation, due in large part to the increased brand recognition as a result of the successful Candice Bergen "Dime Lady" advertisement campaign.

Return to wireless

In 1995, Sprint acquired Centel, allowing Sprint to provide local service in a total of 18 states, putting them back in the wireless market. In 1994, Sprint spun off their existing cellular operations as 360 Communications for regulatory reasons, in order to start a new service in the PCS band. In 1998, 360 Communications was acquired by Alltel, which was in turn acquired by Verizon in 2009.

In late 1994 and early 1995, Sprint acquired near nationwide 1900Mhz PCS spectrum, via Sprint Spectrum APC (a joint venture between Sprint and several cable companies). Later in 1995, the company began to offer wireless service under the Sprint Spectrum brand in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area. This was the first commercial PCS network in the United States. Although the current Sprint PCS service is CDMA, the original Washington-area network used GSM. Eventually, Sprint launched their new nationwide CDMA network, then in 1999 sold the decommissioned GSM infrastructure to Omnipoint which re-launched in May 2000. Omnipoint was later acquired by VoiceStream Wireless, which eventually became part of T-Mobile USA.

Partnerships and more consolidation

In September 1996, Sprint announced a deal with RadioShack, and in 1997, Sprint stores opened at RadioShack to offer communications services and products across the United States. Since then, over 20 million Sprint cell phones have been sold via the RadioShack outlets. RadioShack was one of the first retailers to offer Sprint services and an all-digital nationwide network for its customers.

On October 5, 1999, Sprint and MCI WorldCom announced a $1 merger agreement between the two companies. The deal would have been the largest corporate merger in history at the time. However, due to pressure from the United States Department of Justice and the European Union on concerns of it creating a monopoly, the deal did not go through.

In 2003, Sprint began recombining their local telecom, long distance, wireline, and wireless business units into a new company, in an initiative known internally as "One Sprint." In April 2004, the separately traded wireless tracking stock, "PCS," was absorbed into the New York Stock Exchange "FON" ticker symbol, Sprint's former ticker symbol. (FON stood for "Fiber Optic Network," but was also a homophone of the word "phone"). This was challenged in many lawsuits by Sprint PCS shareholders who felt robbed because their stock was devalued through the ratio of 1 share of PCS stock for 1/2 share of FON stock. The PCS shareholders claimed a loss of 1.3 billion to 3.4 billion dollars.

Nextel Communications

Nextel was founded as FleetCall in 1987 by Morgan E. O' Brien, a Washington, DC, communications attorney, and Brian D. McAuley. FleetCall changed its name to Nextel Communications in 1993. In 1995, wireless pioneer Craig McCaw became a significant investor in the company. U.S. Senator and former Virginia Governor Mark Warner was one of the early investors. Daniel Akerson served as CEO of Nextel for part of his career. Tim Donahue replaced Akerson as CEO in 1998.

Nextel International

Nextel International was founded in 1996 as a subsidiary of Nextel to operate as a holding company for both mobile service and network infrastructure in foreign countries. It initially operated in Latin America and the Philippines. In 2001, Nextel International declared bankruptcy and re-emerged as NII Holdings, Inc. Following Sprint's purchase of Nextel, Nextel sold off most of its investment.

Merger of Sprint and Nextel

Sprint brand mark (2005-Present). Introduced after the 2005 merger of Sprint and Nextel, this brand mark combines the yellow/black Nextel color scheme with the "Sprint" word mark and "pin drop" logo. On December 15, 2004, Sprint and NEXTEL announced they would merge to form Sprint Nextel Corporation. While billed as a merger of equals, the merger was transacted as purchase of Nextel Communications by Sprint Corporation for tax reasons; Sprint purchased 50.1% of Nextel, and spun off the local telecom division to become Embarq. At the time of the merger announcement, Sprint and Nextel were the third and fifth leading providers in the U.S. mobile phone industry, respectively.

Sprint shareholders overwhelmingly approved the merger on July 13, 2005. The merger deal was approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and U.S. Department of Justice on August 3, 2005. The FCC placed a condition on the merger: that Sprint Nextel was to provide wireless service within the 2.5 GHz band within the next four years. Sprint Nextel was officially formed on August 12, 2005, when the deal was completed.

Sprint and Nextel both faced opposition to the merger, mostly from regional affiliates that provided wireless services on behalf of the companies. These regional affiliates felt that the new company would be violating non-compete agreements that the former companies had made with the affiliates.

Since the merger, Nextel customers are now able to convert their plans to the Sprint side, and Sprint Customers can convert their accounts to the Nextel side. Both changes require purchasing new phone equipment.

On September 1, 2005, Sprint Nextel combined plan offerings of its Sprint and Nextel brands to bring more uniformity across the company's offerings.

Nextel has licensed its identity to NII Holdings, Inc., a holding company of which Sprint Nextel owns 18%. They have used the Nextel brand to set up networks in many Latin American countries.

The integration process was difficult, in that top Nextel Executives began leaving the company immediately after the merger closed. Tim Donahue, Nextel CEO, stayed on as executive chairman, but ceded decision-making authority to Forsee. Tom Kelly, COO of Nextel, took an interim staff position as Chief Strategy Officer. Two years after the merger, only a few key Nextel executives remained, with many former Nextel middle- and upper-level managers having left, citing reasons including unbridgeable cultural difference between the two companies.

In 2006, Sprint spun-off its local telephone operations, including the former United Telephone companies and Centel, as Embarq.

Sprint's acquisition of Nextel ultimately was a disaster from a fiscal standpoint in 2008, the company wrote down $29.7 billion of the $36 billion sum it had paid for Nextel in 2005, wiping out 80% of the value of Nextel at the time it had been acquired.[5] The write down reflected the depreciation in Nextel's goodwill since the date of acquisition.[6]

Consolidation to Overland Park

Sprint World Headquarters Campus in Overland Park, Kansas, designed by RMJM Hillier After the Sprint Nextel merger, the company maintained an executive headquarters in Reston, Virginia and operational headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas. Sprint C.E.O. Dan Hesse recognized that having two headquarters was not helping the merger effort, sent the wrong message to employees and contributed to the post-merger cultural clash. To resolve the problem, Hesse decided to consolidate all headquarters operations in the Sprint World Headquarters Campus located in Overland Park, Kansas.[7]

Sprint Nextel Corporation Currently

Sprint

Sprint is the main wireless brand of Sprint Nextel Corporation. Sprint Nextel maintains its nationwide PCS presence with the help of affiliates. These smaller companies, in agreement with Sprint, build network infrastructure as well as operate retail stores. In exchange, the smaller companies may use Sprint's brand, radio spectrum, customer service and billing. In most cases, these affiliate carriers are transparent to the end user or consumer. This has also given Sprint a unique advantage over other carriers, in that its entire network was built for Sprint. Other national carriers' coverage areas are made up of merged and acquired networks, which can cause inconsistent network harmony and other related problems.

Nextel Direct Connect

Nextel Direct Connect is the brand name for Sprint's line of walkie-talkie enabled phones. Along with iDEN based models, Powersource (CDMA/iDEN) and QChat models are branded as Sprint phones with Nextel Direct Connect service.[8]

Sprint Direct Connect

Due to the impending phase-out of Sprint's iDEN network and need to fill the void for push-to-talk (PTT) services to its subscribers, Sprint is beginning the production of Sprint Direct Connect, a voice-over-IP system (VoIP). Customers can keep their old UFMI (Nextel Direct Connect number) or use their phone number as their SDC number. Various enhancements to the PTT services include easier tracking of groups and higher voice quality. Drawbacks to the system include the need for a data package (as in all VoIP services) and the inability to work with international PTT services seamlessly, unlike older iDEN services.

Sprint Prepaid Group

The Sprint Prepaid Group is a division of Sprint Nextel that was formed in May 2010. Sprint Nextel offers prepaid wireless services under its Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, payLo by Virgin Mobile and Assurance Wireless brands.

Boost Mobile

Boost Mobile uses Sprint's CDMA, iDEN and WiMax networks. It offers unlimited talk & walkie-talkie (iDEN only), messaging and data on no-contract monthly plans. It also offers a pay-as-you-go plan. The plan, called "Shrinkage," lowers the monthly amount due for consistent and timely payment.

Virgin Mobile USA

Virgin Mobile USA, operating as Virgin Mobile, uses Sprint's CDMA and WiMax networks. It offers customers Phone, mobile broadband, and unlimited messaging. Data is soft capped at 2.5GB for mobile phones and mobile broadband service. Total data usage is unlimited, but throttled after 2.5GB. The network has about 6 million subscribers. Virgin Mobile targets young consumers. Virgin Mobile USA also offers pay-as-you-go options under its payLo by Virgin Mobile brand.

Assurance Wireless

Assurance Wireless, operated by Virgin Mobile USA, offers lifeline telephone service under the United States Federal Communications Commission's Universal Service Fund program. The program offers a free wireless phone and 250 free local and domestic long distance voice minutes per month to eligible low-income customers.

End users do not receive a bill, are not required to sign a contract, and do not pay activation fees, recurring fees, or surcharges. Text messaging is not included with the 250 free voice minutes, unlike TracFone's competing SafeLink program. In addition to the free services customers receive, they may add on additional minutes, text messaging service and international long distance via pre-payment using a credit card, debit card, Virgin Mobile top up card or PayPal.

, Assurance Wireless service was available to qualifying residents of Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.[9]

Networks

Radio Frequency Summary

The following is a list of known frequencies which Sprint employs in the United States:

Frequencies used on the Sprint/Nextel/Clearwire Network
Frequency Protocol Class
800 MHz iDEN + 1xAdv. (2013) 2G
1900 MHz CDMA/1xRTT 2G
1900 MHz Ev-DO (Rev. A) 3G
800 MHz LTE (2014) 4G
1900 MHz LTE 4G
2500 MHz WiMax + LTE Adv. (2013) 4G

iDEN network

Sprint Nextel's iDEN nationwide network occupies the 800 900 MHz frequency bands and was acquired when Sprint merged with Nextel Communications in 2005. The iDen network was originally deployed as a dispatch radio service and was unique in blending the "Direct Connect" push-to-talk broadcast capability of a walkie talkie with the one to one private communication of a phone.

Sprint Nextel's prepaid brand Boost Mobile currently also uses the iDEN network though it has greatly reduced phone offerings in favor of CDMA phones.

Shut down

In October 2010, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse announced plans to shut down the iDEN network to focus on 4G technology and strengthen the CDMA network. As the shift to more broadband-centric push-to-talk applications on the CDMA network occurs, iDEN cell sites are being be phased out. The complete iDEN shut down is expected to be completed by 1Q 2013.

CDMA/EVDO network

Sprint operates a combination 2G, 3G and 4G wireless network, using the 1xRTT/EVDO standard, which is part of the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) standard. In 2006, Sprint's EV-DO Power Vision network reached more than 190 million people. Sprint announced plans to continue upgrading their 3G EV-DO network until it reaches 260 million people in 2007.[10] Not all of Sprint's network has been upgraded to 3G, with such places as Shreveport, LA, and Tupelo, MS, still lacking 3G.[11]

Sprint's EV-DO (Power Vision) data options include Sprint TV, Sprint Radio Stations (including specialized and local radio), Sprint Music Store, Sprint On-Demand, unlimited Web access, video and picture mail, wireless chat and games. It is currently offered in 43 states in the United States.

Data Fees

Sprint's Vision data access starts at $15 a month for regular phones and PDA phones on the CDMA network ($10 on IDEN for regular phones). The most expensive data package was the "Phone as Modem" plan, which required a $40.00 data pro pack plus $15.00 for Phone as Modem, and allowed customers to tether their phone to a computer for use as a wireless modem. While at one point this attachable could be added to any price plan, it is currently restricted from all Everything Messaging, Everything Data, and Simply Everything price plans. Everything Data and Simply Everything include Unlimited Phone-Based Data in their plan price, whereas Everything Messaging covers data use for SMS/MMS use only. Unlike Verizon's EV-DO offering, Sprint's Power Vision content is available in areas without EV-DO coverage, albeit at the lower speeds of the 1xRTT network. CDMA 1x data speeds can reach 144 kbit/s, while EV-DO currently has bursts of up to 3.1 Mbit/s.

Data roaming agreements

On May 9, 2006, Sprint Nextel and Alltel agreed on a new Nationwide Roaming partnership.[12][13] The new roaming agreement is for voice and 1x & EV-DO data roaming coverage. This new partnership is different from the voice-only roaming agreement between Alltel & Verizon Wireless in that it is reciprocal, giving Alltel customers access to the Sprint 1x & EV-DO network, and Sprint customers access to Alltel's denser, rural 1x & EV-DO voice and data coverage. This agreement represents the first of its kind between U.S. wireless carriers. Although Alltel merged with Verizon Wireless in 2008, one of the conditions of the merger was that Verizon would honor all preexisting agreements between Alltel and other companies. The roaming reciprocity agreement between Alltel and Sprint is set to expire in 2016.

Sprint and Verizon Wireless have a reciprocal data roaming agreement[14] that allows for the use of Sprint Power Vision content like TV, movie downloads, and stream radio in Verizon 1x coverage areas.

Sprint and US Cellular have a 1xRTT data and voice roaming agreement.

Mobile virtual network operators

Sprint Nextel also provides wholesales capacity on its PCS/CDMA wireless network to mobile virtual network operators, allowing other wireless carriers to utilize Sprint's Network. Sprint's prepaid brands operate on both Sprint CDMA and the iDEN (only Boost Mobile) networks; however, they are not an MVNO, but rather wholly owned prepaid divisions of Sprint Nextel.

Broadband for the home via Sprint Mobile

In order to offer broadband directly to the home, Sprint launched a co-branded Broadband[15] Wireless Access Point device along with Linksys, a unit of Cisco Systems. This unit allows Sprint customers to set up a special in a home or office computer network, connecting multiple computers or laptops wirelessly to Sprint's PowerVision network. This broadband service to the Internet will allow some customers to have broadband without paying for telephone service. The PowerVision router may allow one to bypass the local telephone and cable broadband service providers. Such Broadband offerings to the home or office without cable or DSL means the router could be used to provide cheaper VoIP services through Sprint's High Speed network.

Digital Lounge

Sprint now has a Digital Lounge area on the website which gives users access to a variety of products and information. In the Lounge, Sprint users can buy phone accessories, including ringers, call tones, games,[16] screen savers, and full-length music downloads. The online content manager shows the what items the subscriber has purchased for the phone. Guests visiting the Sprint Digital Lounge can see what items are available for purchase and compatible with a particular phone.

Sprint Music Store

On October 31, 2005, the Sprint Music Store officially launched. Initial record-label participation included EMI Music, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and Universal Music Group. On November 1, 2006, after one year of service, the Sprint music store had sold more than 8 million songs, partly thanks to the five free songs it offered customers at launch.[17] On April 1, 2007, the Sprint Music Store started offering music downloads at the price of 99 cents per track to customers who agreed to subscribe to a Vision pack of $15 or higher. Sprint Music Store is currently available for all Android 3G and 4G phones, as well as for the BlackBerry Style 9670 phones, and was launched as the Sprint Music Plus service in 2011, powered by Realnetworks. It offers full track music files from various labels (albums and single tracks), ringback tones, and ringtones. An icon on BlackBerry phones for Sprint Music Store directs users to a page describing that Sprint will release a version of Sprint Music Store soon. In 2011, the Sprint Music Store became available for the BlackBerry Bold 9650.

WiMAX network

Sprint offers 4G services via Clearwire's WiMAX network.

On May 7, 2008, Sprint Nextel announced it would merge its WiMAX wireless broadband unit with Clearwire, combining Sprint's Xohm service with the Clearwire broadband network. Sprint will own a simple majority of the resulting company, with current Clearwire shareholders owning just over a quarter. A consortium of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Intel, Google, and Bright House will invest $3.2 billion and own the balance.[18]

On October 8, 2008, Sprint launched WiMax in Baltimore and showed off several new laptops that will have embedded WiMax chips. They announced that Sprint will be offering dual-mode 3G/'4G' products by the end of the year. Baltimore is the first city to get Xohm, but it is expected to launch soon in more cities, such as Chicago and Philadelphia.[19]

On January 6, 2009, Clearwire launched WiMax in Portland under the Clear brand name. And on June 12, 2009, the CLEAR brand was launched across the entire Atlanta metropolitan area  by far the largest of CLEAR's 4G markets by land area.[20]

On March 23, 2010, Sprint and HTC announced at a CTIA trade show that they would be releasing the HTC EVO 4G, the first 4G phone in the United States. The phone was available June 4, 2010, ahead of competitors' planned releases for 4G phones.[21]

On April 19, 2011, Sprint announced an agreement with Clearwire to pay at least $1 billion to use Clearwire's 4G WiMax network through 2012.

As of December 2011, WiMAX deployment has been put on hold indefinitely, due to both Sprint's and Clearwire's choice to switch to LTE.

LTE network

On July 28, 2011, Sprint Nextel announced that they entered into a 15-year agreement that includes spectrum hosting and network services, 4G wholesale, and 3G roaming with LightSquared.

On October 7, 2011, Sprint Nextel announced at the Sprint Strategy Update conference their initial LTE deployment plans. Initial deployments of LTE began on October 27, 2011 by Network Vision-partner Samsung in Chicago,[22] along with LTE devices available in mid-2012. LTE is expected to cover 123 million people in 2012 and over 250 million people by end of 2013. Sprint will initially deploy LTE in the 1900 MHz 'G' block and over time will add LTE to its 1900 MHz A-G blocks and to its 800 MHz ESMR band. Sprint will also attempt to leverage wholesale Clearwire LTE at the 2500 MHz band if a deal can be made.[23]

On January 5, 2012, Sprint announced via Twitter its first 4 LTE markets, including Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Speeds of the new network are unknown; however, they are expected to be similar to AT&T's and Verizon's until Sprint switches to LTE-Advanced, which is expected to occur after the initial 2012/2013 rollout. Sprint also announced the first three devices capable of accessing its LTE network, including Samsung Galaxy Nexus and LG Viper 4G LTE.

The deal with LightSquared was also removed from the company's current 4G evolution plans. However, the deal is still an option, pending approval of the hybrid satellite network.

On January 8, 2012, video from "PC Mag" showed Sprint 4G LTE speed capability. The video was unofficial and not from Sprint; however, it showed upload speeds close to 7Mbit/s and downloads of up to 45 Mbit/s.[24][25] These speed tests have been found to be false as Sprint is rolling out LTE on a 5x5Mhz carrier which can only support 37Mb/s download speeds at 2x2 MIMO and 18Mb/s upload speeds.[26] This was confirmed by Sprint customers in Sprint's Athens, GA Market.[27]

On April 4, 2012, Sprint announced the HTC EVO 4G LTE phone which it will make available for pre-orders on May 7, 2012. Sprint plans to offer the EVO 4G LTE as their flagship phone and is hopes to replicate the success that it had with the original HTC EVO 4G.

On April 12, 2012, Sprint made available pre-orders for the LG Viper 4G LTE which will go out on sale April 22, 2012, making it the First Sprint LTE capable phone, although the LTE isn't schedule to be activated until the end of June.

Affiliates

In the early stages of network build-out, Sprint relied significantly on network partners known as affiliates to rapidly expand its coverage. These affiliates would lease Sprint's PCS spectrum licenses in a specific geographic area, typically rural areas and smaller cities, and provide wireless service using the Sprint brand. Sprint provided back-end support such as billing and telephone-based customer service, while the affiliates built and maintained the network, sold equipment to customers, and staffed the retail stores in their specific regions. Sprint customers could "roam" across Sprint-operated and affiliate-operated portions of the network without being aware of the distinction, and vice-versa. Outwardly, efforts were made by the affiliates and Sprint to make it appear as if the network was operated by a single entity under the Sprint name, though complex revenue-sharing agreements were in place which were very similar in nature to cross-carrier roaming tariffs. In later years, the relationship between Sprint and its affiliates grew contentious, particular after Sprint's acquisition of Nextel.

Affiliate Acquisition

In 2005, Sprint Nextel acquired three of its ten wireless affiliates: US Unwired, acquired in August; Gulf Coast Wireless, acquired in October; and IWO Holdings, acquired in October. Alamosa PCS, which Sprint Nextel acquired on February 2, 2006, was the largest of its affiliate carriers. Other acquired affiliates include Ubiquitel, iPCS, Enterprise, and Northern. Of Sprint's original ten affiliates, only two, Shentel and Swiftel, now remain.

Affiliates of SprintNextel Corp. and Sprint Rural Alliance

CDMA Affiliates: Swiftel in Brookings, South Dakota;[28] Shentel in northern Virginia, and parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia.

CDMA Partners (SRA Members): Alaska DigiTel in Alaska; Alltel Wireless in Montana; NTelos in West Virginia, and western Virginia; NexTech Wireless in Kansas, and part of Colorado; Pioneer Cellular in Kansas and Oklahoma, in which their agreement ends on March 1, 2012.

Sprint Affiliates are those carriers who use the Sprint name to offer their services yet operate their own network and use Sprint SIDs.

Sprint Partners are those carriers who use their own equipment and also sell their own service. In addition to allowing Sprint to use their equipment, they allow Sprint to hold their licenses in that area.

Sprint Partners are known as "Sprint Rural Alliance" (SRA).

SprintLink

SprintLink is a global Tier 1 Internet service provider network, operating an OC-192 Internet backbone. Customers include large multinational corporations, retail and restaurant chains, Tier 2 and Tier 3 ISPs, and medium-to-small businesses. SprintLink has physical presence in the United States, Western Europe, East Asia, Australia, and India. The network wraps all the way around the world with buried fiber optics in the United States and Europe, and undersea fiber in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. SprintLink is responsible for cable maintenance and administration in the TAT-14 Consortium. Sprint is currently in the process of upgrading their SprintLink core to OC-768 lines to offer increased bandwidth.[29]

Awards

Sprint announced on April 5, 2011, that it had won more Atlantic-ACM Global Wholesale and U.S. Wholesale awards in 2011 than any other telecommunications carrier. The company cited global wins in Brand and Voice Value, and domestic wins in Brand, Provisioning, Network and Customer Service.[30]

Sprint Nextel was awarded the Ability Best Practice Award in 2011 "for its innovative implementation of Video Relay Service (VRS) and for its spirit of inclusion, both in the workplace and in the consumer marketplace."[31]

Sprint's partnership with Sun Microsystems

While many CDMA carriers like Verizon Wireless and Alltel have chosen to use the BREW interface on their phones, Sprint has opted to use the more widespread Java interface for their phone's application support. This allows for the use of Third-Party software applications.[32][33]

Google Play

Sprint recently strengthened its bond with Google and the Android operating system by allowing subscribers to bill application purchases from Google Play to their phone account.

Apple iPhone

During the unveiling of the iPhone 4S on October 4, 2011, Apple Inc. announced that Sprint will begin carrying the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. The iPhone 3GS will not be supported as it is GSM only and is not compatible with Sprint's CDMA/EVDO network.

Acquisitions and settlements

Prior to their merger, Sprint and Nextel were dependent on a network of affiliated companies. Following the announcement of the merger agreement, some of these affiliates came forward with a strong opposition to the Sprint-Nextel merger on the grounds that the merged company might violate existing agreements or significantly undercut earnings to these affiliates. In order for Sprint Nextel to allay some of this opposition, they initiated discussions of either acquiring some of these affiliates or renegotiating existing agreements. In several cases, the newly formed company was forced to acquire affiliated companies in exchange for their dropping their opposition to the merger. Foresee said that the company would likely have to acquire all of its remaining affiliates.

Below are companies which Sprint Nextel has agreed to acquire or has already acquired:

  • August 12, 2005: Sprint acquires the Sprint PCS affiliate US Unwired for $1.3B, thus adding 500,000 additional direct customers to Sprint Nextel.[34]
  • August 30, 2005: Sprint Nextel announces its intention to acquire IWO Holdings, Inc., a mainly New England-based network affiliate for the Sprint PCS business. The acquisition closed on October 20, 2005.
  • Sprint Nextel acquires Gulf Coast Wireless, adding an additional 95,000 customers, mainly in Louisiana and Mississippi, to Sprint Nextel's CDMA network. The acquisition closed on October 3, 2005.
  • November 21, 2005: Sprint Nextel announces a $4.3B. acquisition agreement for Texas-based Sprint PCS affiliate Alamosa Holdings, potentially adding an additional 1.48 million customers to Sprint Nextel.[35]
  • December 16, 2005: Sprint Nextel announces a $98 million agreement to acquire Enterprise Communications of Columbus, Georgia, thus adding over 52,000 customers to the company's PCS Wireless division.[36]
  • December 16, 2005: Sprint Nextel announces acquisition of non-affiliate Velocita Wireless. The transaction enhances the iDEN network's 900 MHz spectrum position.[37] On July 2, 2007, Velocita Wireless, which became an indirect subsidiary of Sprint Nextel, was acquired by United Wireless Holdings, Inc.[38]
  • December 21, 2005: Sprint Nextel Corporation and Nextel Partners, Inc reach an agreement for a $6.5 billion deal whereby the Sprint Nextel Corporation acquires the largest of Nextel's affiliates to end Nextel Partners' opposition to any changes by Sprint in relation to the Sprint-Nextel merger. Once completed, the Nextel Partners deal adds more than 2 million customers directly to the Sprint Nextel company.[39]
  • April 20, 2006: Sprint Nextel Corporation and Ubiquitel PCS Corporation reach an agreement whereby the Sprint Nextel Corporation acquires Ubiquitelpcs, an exclusive Sprint PCS provider.[40]
  • March 17, 2007: Sprint Nextel Corporation completes integration of Nextel Partners customers into the Sprint Nextel system. Nextel Partners' Las Vegas headquarters shuts down service, and all Nextel Partners customers are now handled through the new "Ensemble" billing system. All Nextel Partners customers are now officially Sprint Nextel customers and are entitled to the same promotions as all other Sprint Nextel iDEN customers.
  • August 2, 2007: Sprint Nextel Corporation completes the acquisition of Northern PCS for $312.5 million including debt.[41]
  • July 28, 2009: Sprint Nextel announces a $483 million acquisition agreement for Virgin Mobile USA, adding an additional 5 million pre-paid customers to Sprint Nextel, although these subscribers were counted in Sprint's total subscriber count, as Virgin Mobile USA was a MVNO on Sprint's CDMA network.[42]
  • October 19, 2009: Sprint Nextel agrees to acquire IPCS, one of its last remaining affiliates.
  • December 6, 2010: Sprint announces plans to phase out the iDEN network by 2013.

Airave

On September 17, 2007, Sprint Nextel launched the Airave, which increased cell reception over an area of and could handle up to three calls at once by hooking into an existing broadband connection and using VOIP. The Airave helped eliminate poor signal quality inside buildings. Airave was used only for voice calls using a Sprint CDMA phone and was unavailable for Nextel iDEN phones or data cards/USB modems. By default, the Airave unit allowed any Sprint phone to connect through it, but it could be reconfigured to accept only connections from up to 50 authorized numbers in order to eliminate unwanted use.

Airave now has a device that supports up to 6 devices simultaneously and supports data usage as well. The device requires DSL or land-line internet service to produce the Cdma signal. [43]

Law enforcement cooperation

Sprint Nextel provided U.S. government agencies with its subscribers' GPS locations over 8 million times in one year between September 2008 and October 2009.[44] The disclosures occurred by way of a special, secure portal which Sprint developed specifically for government officials, which enabled users to automatically obtain Sprint customers' GPS locations after submitting a court order or search warrant, or in exigent situations. The GPS function is only allowed after the request has been reviewed and activated by Sprint's surveillance department.

Major sponsorships

In music

  • Sprint Nextel was the official wireless sponsor of the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. Sprint Power Vision customers were able to watch the VMAs on a live simulcast on their Sprint Power Vision handset free of charge.

In films

On television

  • Sprint was a sponsor of the Fox television series 24 and is currently a sponsor of Fringe.
  • Sprint was a major sponsor of the NBC television series Heroes and provided exclusive web content to subscribers.
  • Sprint is a major sponsor of competition reality shows, such as Big Brother and Survivor on CBS, enabling viewers to vote each week for "Player of the Game". Viewers can text a vote for their selected contestant, and a randomly selected participant who votes for the most popular player wins a cash prize.
  • Sprint is the mobile sponsor of NBC's The Voice.

In sports

  • Sprint Nextel is the major title sponsor of NASCAR s top racing series, formerly called the NEXTEL Cup, which became known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on January 1, 2008.[45] Sprint has signed a contract extension with NASCAR that extends to 2015.
  • Sprint Nextel announced in December 2011 that it reached a multi-year exclusive partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to be the league's official wireless service partner.

Other

Nextel's NASCAR FanView named to Time Magazines Best Inventions of 2006

In Time Magazines November 13 issue, Sprint Nextel's NASCAR FanView was named One of Best Inventions of 2006.[47] The NASCAR FanView is a portable PDA that runs on Sprint's data network. The device offers fans access to "Race telecast and up to seven in-car camera channels, direct audio feeds allowing the user to listen to live driver and team conversations, as well as the radio broadcast and an exclusive audio-replay feature."

Celebrity spokespersons

  • From October 1990 to September 1998, actress Candice Bergen served as spokesperson for Sprint Corporation's long distance service, most notably during their "10-cents-a-minute" promotion.
  • From 1999 until 2002, Sela Ward succeeded Candice Bergen when emphasis on long-distance service was discontinued.
  • Over a six-year period until the Sprint-Nextel merger in 2005, spokesperson Brian Baker, an actor, appeared as trenchcoated character "The Sprint Guy" in 155 spots.
  • On October 21, 2006 Sprint Nextel announced that, as part of their new "Power Up" campaign, they would use actor Ron Livingston as a "[s]traightforward, relatable guy who finds unconventional ways to talk about Sprint's wireless services."
  • In 2007, Stacy London, fashion consultant and co-host of What Not to Wear, partnered with Sprint to launch their "My Mobile Style" website, which aimed to help people choose a cell phone based on their personal style. She is quoted as saying "I partnered with Sprint on this project because Sprint understands that your mobile phone is a major reflection of who you are."[48]
  • Since 2007, Sprint has not used a spokesperson in its ads, opting instead for voiceover announcers, or in the case of the "Simply Everything" series of commercials, current chief executive Dan Hesse.

See also

References

External links

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