In the wake of the failed Sprint/T-Mobile merger, the wireless infrastructure industry may experience a resurgence in Sprint’s network buildout similar to the rebirth of T-Mobile after it marriage to AT&T was nullified. In fact, Sprint has a multiple-prong plan for growing its wireless infrastructure that will enhance capacity and throughput, Tarek Robbiati, the CFO of Sprint, told an audience at the UBS Global Media Communications Brokers Conference in New York City this week.
Sprint’s network rollouts will include tri-banding a majority of its towers to operate in the 800 MHz, 1900 MHz and 2500 MHz bands.
“We have not rolled out 2500 MHz in full across our footprint. We’ve rolled it out roughly on 50 percent of all the towers covering 70 percent of our pops,” Robbiati said in a SeekingAlpha.com transcript. “We know that when we deploy 2500 MHz, the experience that our customer witness is much, much better than when we don’t. So that is number one, the focus on network deployment.”
Sprint is also going to roll out “a few thousand towers,” to increase its coverage in neighborhood. “Our network footprint is probably in need of an expansion in some specific neighborhoods where we feel we are a little bit short,” Robbiati said.
Additionally, the carrier plans to deploy massive multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) radio systems that will involve 64 transmission element and 64 receive elements.
“I don’t think any other player will do it to the same extent that we will, we are going to be aggressively rolling out MIMO as part of the tower upgrades and neighborhood expansions,
Robbiati said, “and that helps really drive spectrum efficiency to the next level and increase our capacity by a factor of 10x.”
Sprint’s increase in capex will boost in small cell densification, combining mini-macros in right of way and air strands with its business/residential Magic Boxes, which were launched in spring of 2017.
“We will be spending $5 billion to $6 billion next year in deploying our network,” Robbiati said. “You could expect that probably for a couple of years we would be at around that level, but then we will come back down from that level to a more sustainable CapEx-to-sales ratio and a $4 billion to $5 billion of CapEx spend per year.”