updated 09:35 am EST, Wed February 8, 2012
Sprint gives more details of LTE, iPhone in call
Sprint in the wake of its fall results expanded its LTE plans and also touted the iPhone as a better option for its network than Android. The carrier now planned to add its original WiMAX city, Baltimore, to the cities getting LTE-based 4G by mid-2012. Sprint's home area of Kansas City was also new and would see a total of six cities getting the new network.
The official, early LTE device mix will include the Galaxy Nexus, LG Viper, and a Sierra Wireless hotspot.
During a fiscal results call, company chief Dan Hesse also provided considerably more detail as to the impact of the iPhone, which he characterized as positive even with the impact to operating income margins. The iPhone represented a full 40 percent of Sprint's gross additions, or almost twice as many as at other carriers, the CEO said. It helped the company boost smartphones to 66 percent of its total cellphone sales but to 86 percent of its core Sprint subscription base.
iPhone owners were also better for the network. Hesse validated unofficial studies and said iPhones use less data on average than their Android counterparts. The ease of use was helpful to Sprint's support bottom line as well: iPhone buyers called customer service considerably less than their Android counterparts, at least early on.
Having Apple's device was creating a positive impact for churn. Sprint normally saw a spike in turnover during an iPhone launch quarter as customers defected, but that didn't happen in the fall. The main concern would be a "trough" of lower than usual operating income in 2012, both from the iPhone and from the Network Vision upgrades as Sprint consolidated towers and brought in LTE.