Despite year-over-year revenue decrease, Sprint beat estimates
Sprint spent $1.1 billion on its network in the third quarter of 2019, the seventh straight quarter the operator has invested 10-figures, according to President and CEO Michael Combes. And that will continue, he said in a Jan. 27 message from management, with plans to continue installing massive MIMO radios, which Sprint is using in conjunction with its 2.5 GHz spectrum for both LTE and 5G.
Following this dual-connect principal, where portions of a 64 T, 64 R massive MIMO radio are allocated to both LTE and 5G, Sprint in 2019 built out commercial 5G networks in portions of nine major markets–Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington D.C. This same round of investment and truck rolls also served to improve the operator’s LTE network.
Combes, citing Ookla testing results, said Sprint’s ongoing network investments have yielded a 45% year-over-year increase in national average download speed. “Our massive MIMO deployment continues to deliver improved LTE performance where available and provides the foundation for our mobile 5G network. We now have thousands of massive MIMO sites on-air across the country. Additionally, we now have approximately 37,000 small cells on air, which are delivering improvements in coverage, capacity and time on LTE to improve the customer experience in specific locations.”
With these ongoing improvements to LTE and capex dedicated to serving up 5G, Sprint is seeing net gains in postpaid customers but is reported a net loss of $120 million. Wireless service revenues amounted to $5.2 billion in Q3. Sprint and T-Mobile US are still in the late-stages of a merger, which is currently being held back by a group of state attorneys general. That matter already went to trial and all sides are waiting for a ruling.
“I continue to be impressed by the commitment of Sprint employees to deliver results during this period of uncertainty,” Combes said in a statement. “As we await a decision in the state attorneys general lawsuit, I continue to believe the merger with T-Mobile is the best way to deliver the benefits of competition to American consumers.”
Sprint and T-Mobile have argued that the combined company will serve as a viable competitor to Verizon and AT&T, while also helping the U.S. achieve national ambitions around 5G availability. Operator execs have pointed to the powerful combination of Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum and T-Mo’s millimeter wave and low-band licenses. Conditions already imposed on the merger include a divestiture of assets designed to allow DISH to enter the market as a fourth, nationwide facilities-based carrier.
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