In a move to catch up with its rival carriers, Sprint just announced that its 4G LTE network -- and improved 3G service -- is coming to the Bronx and Brooklyn on July 30.
Sprint also promised to launch 4G LTE in parts of Manhattan, Staten Island and Queens in the coming months. But the bigger news may be that Sprint is giving subway riders the wireless access they crave.
Indeed, Sprint has been the slowest of the four big wireless carriers to push out its network upgrade plans. At the same time, Sprint has been the most aggressive with various flavors of unlimited wireless services.
With the Softbank acquisition a done deal, can we expect to see Sprint ramp up faster -- and compete harder with Verizon and AT&T?
A $5 Billion Infusion
We caught up with Jeff Kagan, a wireless industry analyst in Atlanta, to get his reaction to the news. He told us today's announcement marks the first part of Sprint's network upgrade to 4G in markets all across the country -- and customers will love the 4G speeds.
"The lack of 4G speeds throughout the network was always Sprint's weak spot. Now as they upgrade their network to 4G in market after market it will help Sprint compete against AT&T and Verizon," Kagan said. "This is the kind of activity that we can expect to see more of in markets around the country after the Softbank merger."
Softbank completed its $21.6 acquisition of Sprint earlier in July. Softbank now owns about 72 percent of the company. The company infused $5 billion of new capital into Sprint's coffers to strengthen its balance sheet and help it push more quickly toward its goals.
Sprint is already putting some of that money to use. The third-largest wireless carrier also announced a partnership with Transit Wireless to bring its voice and service to Transit's wireless network in the New York subway system. Sprint will provide service in all 277 underground subway stations. Wireless customers of Sprint, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile can expect to begin receiving coverage underground in 36 stations in midtown Manhattan and Chelsea in early 2014.
Also this week, Sprint announced Wireless CapTel by Sprint powered by Raketu for all iOS-powered devices. The new app aims to help people with hearing loss use mobile devices.
Here's how it works: A user places a call in the same way he would when using a traditional phone, dialing the number directly on the device. The app then connects the caller to the CapTel service when the phone is dialed. When the receiving party answers, the caller can listen to what the other person is saying and also read captions on the phone's display screen.