Last Updated: January 17th, 2012

As I wrote back in October, Sprint currently has major network issues, but the company has been planning to address the woes with the Network Vision rollout in 2012 and 2013.

Network Vision is a project to improve existing cell towers and roll out LTE across the U.S., and it's already underway in the existing CDMA 1900MHz range. 1900MHz is nice, but just wait till you see what the 2nd stage of NV (Network Vision) has in store when it starts rolling out in the 800MHz range in place of the current iDEN network.

These Sprint webinar slides surfaced last month, but only now made it to our inbox and prompted me to order a support brace for my jaw. You are going to want to sit down for this one, especially if you're an existing Sprint customer. Now remember, these are just slides of projections, but it's what Sprint thinks will happen, using Atlanta as the sample market.

Here is what Network Vision to the 1900MHz towers is projected to do to signal strength:

image => image

Signal strength (green - great, yellow - good, red - mediocre, blue - bad, white - coverage gaps)

As you can see, NV should bring noticeable, yet marginal, improvements to coverage.

Here is what should happen with the rollout of the 800MHz Network Vision:

image => image

Signal strength (green - great, yellow - good, red - mediocre, blue - bad, white - coverage gaps)

You won't need your glasses to see the difference here. Lower frequency means longer wavelength, which in turns means better signal propagation and building penetration. Sprint seems to think it really will be this significant.

I'd like to note that the information in the slides shows strength of reception and does not address data speed and latency issues directly, but they are most definitely related. More importantly, increased coverage area means 3G and LTE will be able to reach a much larger chunk of the population.

LTE for speed, 800MHz for range - that's a winning recipe, in theory. Sprint's plans currently include starting the repurposing process of the 800MHz range in 2013, although how many markets they will upgrade in the first year and how fast they continue to move remains to be seen. LTE-Advanced upgrades should also begin that year, so if everything goes as planned, 2013 will be the year to get on Sprint.

Thanks, Tony

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • http://twitter.com/mikeGsays GarciaM25

    Problem is..... it's still using CDMA! How many countries, companies, providers still use CDMA compared to GSM? I'll give you a hint, the letter G in GSM means Global for a reason! This is like plugging a hole in a dam with silicon and not attempting the repairs to prevent it from happening again.... Verizon and Sprint aren't getting any of my money ever again!

    • Tommy

      Not everyone travels the worlds constantly and needs to have an unlocked global phone. Sprint also offers unlocked phones that have Sim slots for GSM networks. Don't really see the problem...

      • Will

        true and Sprint also ships all there international devices unlocked. I believe VZW has units locked in to thier network/partners. ATT and T*Mobile too, though I think T*Mobile is pretty easy with unlocking it.

        Not sure though...My last T*Mobile phone was a Moto back in 2005.

        • DrMacinyasha

          Verizon lets you unlock to any non-USA GSM carrier after owning the phone for a few weeks.

      • http://www.sprint.com/convergence Len

        Sprint is moving to LTE. cDMA will eventually be the voice only feature and then voice will eventually be moving to LTE with the next revision level. Sprint will be able to do this seamlessly because of its network vision initiative. What the author fails to state is that this project makes everything software based so it will become very easy to move to another technology or revision. After that will come true voice over WiFi with consideration of moving from LTE to WiFi and back as you move around through out your day , the handoff needs to be seamless. So when you make a statement do know what your saying before you speak.

    • Will

      What's the problem with CDMA? Granted it's not as ubiquitous as GSM internationally. Suppose that's what happens when you are selected as the de facto standard in Western Europe.

      With that said many countries do utilize CDMA(roughly 54ish) and the technology is sound. Alos, I'm not sure what "hole in a dam" you feel is being plugged incorrectly. Different circumstances and it would be CDMA that may have been the standard overseas, and your comments would be targeted at the technology you praise(without any reason...other than being Global, which may be key for you).

      I can appreciate your passion for GSM...but I liken your logic(as best can be interpreted from your post) to someone that implies MS Windows is better than OS X because more people use it and every major corporation stateside/internationally use it.

    • William D

      Sprint is doing Network Vision to support the 45 million CDMA users they still have. Which in terms of population of the USA, is a nice chunk. Network Vision what you may not realize is paving the path for LTE. What coverage you see with CDMA will be the same with LTE. ALL GSM CARRIERS ARE MOVING FROM GSM TO LTE TOO! So before you start spouting off how great GSM is, know that all GSM companies as well as CDMA companies are moving to LTE anyway. So with that said, yes, Im sure Sprint and Verizon will get your money one day.

      • DCMAKER

        you need to reread your statement and research what you just said...its entirely flawed and makes you sound really dumb.

        • drksilenc

          not really it makes perfect sense

        • dro39

          No, LTE is a new technology that's meant to replace the GSM and CDMA voice + data networks. 3G/4G in its current state only replaces 2G data and not voice.

          You're the only one who sounds dumb.

    • Jaz

      If you travel than yes sprint may not be a good choice. But the current iphone4s and the tp2 are both world phones, plus sprint will surely come out with more. This is really not that big of a problem anymore.

    • drksilenc

      china telecom, several big players in india as well...

  • foofighter

    800 is great but controlling signal propagation will be more of a challenge

  • http://verb0ze.net verboze

    It always looks good on paper... Hope it does hold up during implementation

    • http://www.sprint.com/convergence Len

      It's already been launched in certain areas in NJ and It's given Sprint exactly what is expected

  • http://www.thenolands.com chris Noland

    well actually CDMA is better for voice capacity but the issue Verizon, Sprint, Cricket and MetoPCS have is the cost of terminals (Mobile devices). To be competitive they need to sell a device for example 200 under contract but purchase the device for 600. The GSM/UMTS operators may purchase a similar device for 500. So what does this matter? With churn rates you have a large portion of your network users "buying" new phones that the operator is subsidizing. The CDMA operators are at a disadvantage with their additional costs. The reason the phones cost more is because their is less market for CDMA phones. Look at the operators balance sheets and terminal subsidies is almost the cost of infrastructure.

    To GarciaM25 comment I really like SIM cards and the ability to swap phones with out calling the operator... prepaid sims are great when traveling internationally also...which CDMA phones just cannot touch.

    Read up on Project vision on the Sprint site http://newsroom.sprint.com/press_kits.cfm?presskit_id=19

    If they are able to execute on this project they maybe able to build a great network. This said... when PCS came out they had a lead and lost it, purchased nextel and lost tons of customers. I want them to be successful but not sure if they can do it

    • fonseca898

      You don't need to call to swap phones on CDMA if you have a data connection. I've swapped through the currently active device more times than I can count over the past six years.

      I don't think GSM is preferable over CDMA, _unless_ you travel internationally, when it is more convenient than carrying a second device.

      • Justin

        Could you please tell me how you switch between phones?? I have only done so twice, and it was a royal pain because I had to call Sprint and get to a technician who could do it for me :(

        • Joseph M.

          You can use Verizon's website to change devices from a computer or your own smartphone. You simply enter the ESN (electronic serial number) of the phone you're changing to. It works almost instantly.
          If the phone you're changing to is brand new, or if it was last activated on a different account, you also must dial *228 in order to download your account info to phone--then the magic can begin. (They tell you to call *228 every time, but it's not necessary if, for example, you have a nice phone and a beater that you switch between regularly, and are never used on anybody else's account.)
          I believe that Sprint PCS and other CDMA carriers must have similar functions on their websites.

        • Freak4Dell

          As Joseph said, you can do it online. I think the automated phone system can also do it now, but the easiest way is to just do it online.

        • drksilenc

          sprint has this on there site as well

        • http://www.sprint.com techkraut

          You can do it yourself on http://www.sprint.com/activate

  • Larry

    Will the Sprint Galaxy Nexus support the 800mhz flavor of LTE?

    • DrMacinyasha

      How else would it have LTE on Sprint's network?

      • William D

        It will use LTE on 1900Mhz as Sprint has stated.


    If it's not still unlimited, it's just robbing Peter to pay Paul. Unlimited data is the deal maker, especially right now. If access increased, but usage is limited, who will care?

  • boe

    I don't trust Sprint any further than I can throw their CEO. They've been promising better speeds for over a year now and my data speeds have actually dropped. If I was in Kalamazoo that wouldn't be surprising but if they can't pay attention to network demands in Los Angeles or Tucson what cities are big enough to get their attention? (Yes, I know there are some cities in the US with larger populations but how many?)

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      They definitely dropped the ball, but I think they're really starting to turn around. I really want to go LTE, and I'm not sure I can hold on to Sprint much longer, but if they blast through this year aggressively, I might just stay to see what happens. Their new motto is to underpromise and overdeliver, rather than the other way around.

  • Kyle

    So will existing devices need just a radio update to work, or will they never be able to get on 800MHz?

    • Wayne

      They will never be able to get on 800mhz or 1900mhz. Sadly the ET4G i bought will never see 4g as i live in Hawaii. Shit i dont even expect to have 4g LTE in 2015 on my island of Kauai. Its just a remote island in the chain of islands in Hawaii. Tsk tsk. But atleast i get. 8Mb/sec through 1.2Mb/sec since not many people are rocking sprint on my island since there is no actual sprint store other than Radio Shack (radio shack is 100% over priced and dumb). EDIT- is the 800mhz band suppose to be released and installed onto EVERY SINGLE existing cell tower? Or atleast will the 1900mhz band be released to every tower? Also is the 3g going to revB so that it will improve also or is the only upgrade some of us are getting is 4g and they are leaving 3g untouched? Please respond to my questions if you have a answer! MAHALO

      • DrMacinyasha

        WiMAX (Sprint's current 4G) is in 2700 MHz. Their new LTE network is going to go on the 1900 MHz, while 800 MHz will be taking over 3G until LTE is completely rolled out. Then, LTE-Advanced will be deployed on 800 MHz.

        Their goal is over the next 2-5 years have every tower as LTE on 1900 MHz, and LTE-A on 800 MHz. WiMAX is a completely different story, uses different towers, and is already obsolete.

        • http://www.sprint.com/convergence Len

          You are right and wrong in some areas. The Network Vision initiative is really making a tower exist with multi modes of spectrum. The device will eventually be able to choose which spectrum is best. So if you are three walls deep into a building it will use 800. If you are standing in the middle of times square it will choose 2500. These towers will have Wimax as well although eventually not anytime soon Wimax will go. But the point is this initiative allows Sprint to use several different types of spectrum on its network and even be able to "host" others.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1531592376 Mark Weiss

            Will this be the case for Boost Mobile customers, who are being transitioned from iDEN to PCS at the present time? I've lost service at my location because of this switch. My iDEN phone gets a solid, robust signal, but my new PCS (LG Venice) gets no service at all here. And I am 900' from the tower, where I get 6 bars on the LG as I drive past it on the way home.

      • calvin

        All current 3G phones will change from 1900mhz to 800mhz only, as sprint roll out Ev-Do rev B (that is still compatible with rev A phones) witch will take the work load for 3G/calling, LTE will first roll out on its 1900mhz then later to there 900mhz as LTE advanced.
        there are two good thing about this rollout.

        1st. this will mean better coverage for 3G calls and data.

        2nd. all LTE phones (first run ones) will be LTE 1900mhz + cdma rev B 800mhz then later on LTE 900Adv/1900mhz + cdma Rev B 800mhz

        if you look at it this way Ev-Do rev B is as fast as hspa+ on the slower end that is, but all newer 3G phone Ie: EpTouch Photon and Evo 3D will have better 3G speeds. {^_^}

        "We were told to expect up to 9Mbps down and 2Mbps up, enabling them to surpass every other 3G network in the US including the ā€œ4Gā€ networks T-Mobile and ATT like to say they have" (post LTE)

        • Will

          I don't believe that Rev. B is in the works for Sprint. It's LTE, CDMA on Nextel 800 freq and some network optimization.

    • Will

      Some of the device released in the second half of 2011 support the 800MHz frequency and will receive an update to utilize the freq. I believe they are classified as supporting band class 10.

      • DrMacinyasha

        All Sprint devices "support" 800 MHz. The difference is that currently, it's Sprint's iDEN network, and Verizon's CDMA 1X network. So when you roam, you're using Verizon (or some other carrier's) 800 MHz network. Sprint's current 4G (WiMAX) operates up in the 2.7 GHz range, and is a completely separate radio than the CDMA radio.

        • Will

          I am aware if that current Sprint device are capable of roaming on the 800MHz frequency currently used by Verizon.

          I was commenting on the capability of current Sprint devices to utilize the Nextel frequency that is being reallocated to CDMA. With that said, I reaffirm the fact that all existing Sprint devices will not be capable of supporting the 800MHz frequency that will be made available after Sprint's Network Vision project is completed.

          Additionally, the WiMAX frequency currently being utilized by Sprint/Clearwire is in the 2.5GHz range not 2.7...you are correct that it is a separate radio than CDMA.

  • Bronxboi

    I hate the call quality of GSM and the constantly dropped calls on AT&T and T-mobile. I have no problem with CDMA but I wish that there was better portability between CDMA carriers. Anyway, I look forward to Sprint getting their LTE network because I have been with them for 12 years and plan on sticking around.

    • plug

      If you've been on sprint for 12 years, I don't really trust your opinion of AT&T/T-mobile.

  • Freak4Dell

    Sprint also projected that the Premium Data fee would save them, and that spending billions on the iPhone would shoot them to the number one carrier spot and reincarnate Hesse as the second coming of Jesus.

    Yes, I'm exaggerating, but the fact of the matter is that Sprint's projections are 100% USDA choice bovine feces.

    Why wait for Sprint to drop your jaw when Verizon dropped jaws over a year ago, and AT&T started doing the same a few months ago?

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      For me it was basically unlimited data and a horrible series of tests with the Tbolt, which dropped data worse than Sprint ever did. I am going to try a new RAZR unit for a few weeks to see if the 3G/4G switchover situation got fixed.

      • Freak4Dell

        As far as I know, that was just the ThunderBolt that was so bad. I haven't really heard many complaints outside of that particular phone.

        As for unlimited data, I've seen other people explain it as a bottomless pitcher of beer that can only be drank through a thin straw. I gotta say...I totally agree.

        • http://www.mobiletechview.com j_dav1

          All the 4G phones have had data problems, the thunderbolt was the most criticized because it was the only one for a long time. Its the authentication system that causes it. However, I have a tbolt and it has greatly improved, I rarely have any problems now.

        • Jeremy

          I have and still own a Tbolt, the only problem with the Tbolt is The current RIL that Verizon and HTC have developed is plain crap, i run a custom rom with a custom RIL, and i have yet to get a dropped call or Loose 4g. NOT ONCE! But the sad part is customers have to resort to rooting and voiding the warranty! Now as far as the other Phones i really dont hear any issues with 4g, ex. Razr, GNexus, Bionic ect.. Now ive been waiting for a new phone and i was going to buy a Gnexus, but i currently just won an LG Spectrum off twitter and @theLGgirl , which from what ive heard and read has a better HD screen and could possibly be faster. Its a waiting game now for me cause i haven't received it and i dont know how long these prize things take before you get the prize. But any who VZW has dropped jaws and will continue to drop jaws. Ive been on every carrier EVERY ONE and VZW by far is the best experience ive had and its worth every penny being with them.

      • FireTheMofo

        Had Tbolt, RAZR and Nexus. RAZR has better reception than Nexus but the Verizon 4G data network is still not equal to the old 3G network. Not by a long shot. It's better than when Tbolt was released, not much switching going on really, but when you do get dropped to 3G it can take entirely too long to move back to 4G. Not always though, so it's unpredictable. Maybe it's something they can work out when they move to VOLT. One thing for sure though, for me, I'll take a wonky but wicked fast LTE signal that "mostly" works over a capacity starved backhaul with "unlimited" 1996 speeds any day!

    • Robbie Rob

      Probably because even us who have the money to choose ( waste on ) Verizon don't see the sense of it when I can stay with Sprint and save $500 over two years & get unlimited data .. In my area things will be great in months.. In another year Sprint will be downright respectable nationwide... So if you live on your phone all more the reason to stay with Sprint: You wont have to choose a 8 or 10GB data plan as you do on other carriers with Sprint.. I work in healthcare, but Im prudent with my money. If Sprint wasn't upgrading Id end up leaving, but they are.. I waited this long and a few more months wont kill me. In fact at this point if I left I'd probably regret it knowing Softbank ( that bought 78% of Sprint last week ) is gonna pour ( in addition to Sprint scheduled upgrades ) an additional 16 Billion dollars ( over the next two years ) to upgrade Sprint network even further and faster into a company that can finally compete with ATT/ Verizon.,.

      Now that Sprint has acquired Clearwire and will now be also using Clearwire's 2500mhz for LTE they will soon be in the unique position of having more bandwidth then ATT and Verizon combined.. This means Sprint's network ( once complete ) won't get slowed down as badly when its busy.. Sprint will offer tri band with 800 Mhz, 1900 ( used right now ), and 2500 Mhz..

      I'm not on my smartphone much, but they are upgrading my area right now...some LTE is available although they haven't even announced LTE (at all) ..but in the areas that have Sprint LTE: I am downloading at 18 to 24, and uploading around 6 to 7.. not bad.. Once upgrades are complete the money saving alone will be worth staying with Sprint.. I know not everyone is getting those speeds but Sprint isn't finished upgrading by far. Even cities that already have LTE aren't done yet. Those cities will be revisited for round 2 in which 800 MHZ will be rolled out ( 1900 Mhz LTE is rolled out first, 800 MHz is being rolled out now because the 800 Mhz was only freed up weeks ago when Sprint shut down its IDEN network ) and 2500 Mhz will also be rolled out.. TRI band LTE !
      A one hour HD movie is approximately 400 MB in size.. takes only about a 3 Mb download per second connection - so you can almost do it over 3G.. but the SIZE of the video is another thing. I downloaded a 47 minute HD video in a few minutes over Sprint's LTE and realized after seeing I just used 368 MB on one single video that I'd be paying for a larger data plan if I did leave Sprint.. I used 1/3 of a Gig in minutes... Id eat up a 6 Gig plan on Verizon or ATT in two weeks.. I'll stick with Sprint's unlimited data..

      • Rod

        I'd have to agree with Freak4Dell on this one. You're not really saving any money with Sprint. They chose they iPhone over their network, acquiring Nextel and adopting WiMAX put them 5-10 years every other carrier. T-Mobile's 4G HSDPA+ is just as fast, if not faster than Sprints LTE and T-Mobile has better high speed coverage. In the time that it has taken to Sprint to roll out WiMAX and the time its going to take them to build out a nationwide LTE network; Verizon and AT&T both will have turned off there old legacy 2G GSM and 3G CDMA networks using that capacity for more LTE, and at the pace they're moving, T-Mobile (which btw still has Unlimited Data) won't be far behind.

        Sprint's 3 Band LTE diet is not going to work very well. For starters as Sprint WiMAX ( and some T-Mobile/AT&T 3G ) users learner, 1900mhz isn't very good for in-building reception and 2500Mhz is useless. In addition ATT/Verizon own a bunch of sub 1000mhz spectrum blocks, so the capacity gains will be moot. Second, at this point the entirety of their LTE network is on the 1900mhz band (800/2500 are still being cleared out from their former Nextel/Clearwire days) and that's not going to change until the middle of next year at the earliest.
        Furthermore their LTE network is still voice only, which translates to Sprint having to get special phones (AT&T and T-Mobile use similar bands, as did Sprint and Verizon's CDMA networks) and their phones having crappy battery life still they would still have to be dual mode CDMA/LTE
        Get a better Carrier. Ditch Sprint.

        • David Blackwell

          I have Sprint LG optimus g & HTC one and get 22 to 30 mbs on both data speed here in Jersey. T-Mobile sucks and barely gets reception. I downloaded movie torrents in less than half hour on both devices 1.5 to 2.5 gb torrents!! It is data!! T-Mobile could never do that! Talk is cheap action speaks!!

  • Leo

    You mean Dropping Calls, and LTE service right?

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      I don't even care about voice, just data. It was dropping data altogether or constantly switching back and forth. I couldn't get through a train trip and stay connected to the Internet for half the time.

  • jsn1220

    What's the plan for Sprint's Voice over LTE aka VoLTE ?

  • rockingmyevo3d

    My Galaxy Nexus on verizon rules..

    • squiddy20

      No one cares Richard "Dick" Yarrell. This is a Sprint article, not Verizon and certainly not Galaxy Nexus. What a dope.
      BTW, if the Galaxy Nexus "rules", then why is your screen name still "rockingmyevo3d", a phone you no longer have?

      • CactusCat

        Squiddy, I do believe you pwned Dickie boy on that post, however, do you think he got it?

      • Circs

        Watch out everybody, we've got a bad ass over here!

  • david279

    They say they will be moving towards it with LTE advanced not the initial LTE rollout.

  • Lance

    I am done with Sprint. When my contract expires earl June, I am moving over to the Big Red opr Ma Bell. They have more concern with spending their $$$ on NAAAAAACR than bolstering their netwrok. NV is too little too late. Promises promises...

    • Freak4Dell

      Excellent choice!

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Ha, "NAAAAAAACR"

  • Dave

    I could have swore that I read somewhere that they were going to use the Nextel 900mHz band and discontinue that service. Guess not.

    • Zachary Jacob Zblewski

      Nextel operated in the 800mHz band.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1531592376 Mark Weiss

        My Motorola i450 phone makes several brief ping transmissions on 816.34MHz when it powers up, as viewed on my HP 8568B spectrum analyzer.
        The longer wavelength really makes a dramatic difference in hilly forested CT. PCS has no service here unless I'm parked in front of the tower, just 900' from the house, or I am downtown near major roads. iDEN seems to work everywhere, even in the woods and hills up in the NW corner.

    • Freak4Dell

      Nextel used iDen, iDen ran in the 800mHz range, and Sprint will be decommissioning that to use for LTE Advanced.

  • hai

    only problem here is 800MHz holdings are extremely limited and with it seemingly increasing coverage 500%, that means low capacity for much of that new coverage.

  • Zachary Jacob Zblewski

    Looking at these slides *finally* made me realize why I never have to worry about coverage. I guess it's a no-brainer, but I never really thought of it this way before. Where I live, there is a chain of cities from Milwaukee to Green Bay, all connected by Highway 41. There isn't the sprawl you see in places like Atlanta. Because the cities are linear and elongated, the cell companies have a much easier time providing coverage.

    In addition, the Milwaukee-Madison-Chicago triangle has some of the most complete coverage in the country, even out in the boondocks.

  • Jared Keyloft

    How do you know its CDMA? Did Dan Hesse tell you that? This isnt even the half of it....whats to come WILL blow your minds ;)

    • BlueCarbon

      What else would it be? There are no other cellular technologies coming down the pike. Besides, Sprint will probably try to keep compatibility with other networks for roaming. ;)

    • Jaz

      Why wouldn't it be cdma? Sprint only runs cdma. Yes they have world phones but its so that they work outside of the country if you need them. I used to work for a cell phone company and if you look at the specifics of gsm and cdma the only advantage gsm has is worldwide capabilities while cdma has better call quality,less dropped calls and it is more secure. So if you live in the us and its the only place your going to use your phone then it doesn't matter if you have sprint.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1531592376 Mark Weiss

    I have a Boost Mobile iDEN phone. I also just got a Boost LG Venice phone, (800-1900) and let me tell you that those bottom 2 maps approximate my experience. At the house, iDEN has four bars of signal, while the CDMA 1900 has zero and I cannot make any calls. iDEN is on 816.34MHz (at least that's what my i450 pings when it powers up, as seen on my spectrum analyzer. Getting 800mhz CDMA will be heaven. I hope they turn it on quickly after the June 30 iDEN shut down.

  • prisoner223

    Three year update:

    Sprint sucks as much balls now as it did then.