Sprint CEO talks up 5G efforts with Ericsson, Nokia

6 May 2016

Sprint’s CEO Marcelo Claure has highlighted the cellco’s upcoming soccer stadium 5G trials in an investor call this week. Referring to development of Sprint’s extensive 2.5GHz spectrum (‘the low band spectrum of 5G’), Mr Claure stated that: ‘Our densification and optimisation plan is building the foundation for 5G … We leverage the Copa America soccer tournament to demonstrate the 5G capabilities using millimetric band radius to deliver 4K streaming of soccer content at two Copa America stadiums in June working with both Nokia and Ericsson … we’re focused on optimising both the performance of the network as well of the cost to build and operate the network. Working with [Sprint’s parent group] SoftBank, we’re expanding the many tools in the toolbox today for maximising network performance as well as the efficiency of capital and operating costs … Everything we do is focused on putting more spectrum assets to work for our customer at the lowest possible cost. We’re leveraging all forms of site structures, including existing public infrastructure, in order to densify our network and provide more capacity than any other wireless carrier in the US.’

Sprint is looking to keep up pace of 5G development with its main rivals. Verizon said in its recent Q1 earnings release call: ‘We are committed to being the first US company to roll out 5G wireless technology’ (having previously revealed a 5G launch target of 2017), whilst T-Mobile US plans to begin 5G trials later this year with Ericsson and Nokia, and AT&T has announced a roadmap for research, development and commercialisation of 5G mobile networks in partnership with Ericsson and Intel, including outdoor 5G tests this summer. TeleGeography notes that at February’s Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Ericsson identified AT&T as a chosen major strategic partner for 5G/IoT development due to the carrier’s forward-thinking strategy and IoT experience.

Sprint ended March 2016 with 58.81 million total subscribers (including wholesale and affiliate operations), up from 58.36 million in the previous quarter and 56.14 million a year earlier. For the twelve-month period ended 31 March (its fiscal full-year), Sprint’s revenue dropped to USD32.18 billion from USD34.53 billion, although it swung to a positive operating income for the first time in nine years, posting EBIT of USD310 million compared to year-ago EBIT loss of USD1.9 billion, driven by lower costs and affected by a previous USD2.13 billion impairment charge. Adjusted annual EBITDA increased to USD8.15 billion from USD6.0 billion, while Sprint’s full-year net loss narrowed to just below USD2 billion from USD3.35 billion.

United States, Ericsson, Nokia, Sprint Corporation