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Sprint chief executive touts network as Chicago sees Spark service

Updated: 2013-12-11T06:46:37Z

By MARK DAVIS

The Kansas City Star

Sprint Corp. chief executive Dan Hesse touted the company’s emerging new network Tuesday as its fastest service, Spark, made its debut in Chicago.

Spark is an enhanced version of Long Term Evolution, or LTE, technology. according to the Overland Park-based company. It promises faster Internet connections for mobile users so they can download apps, stream video and otherwise handle data at previously unseen speeds on the company’s network.

It’s part of a complete network upgrade at Sprint that includes better voice service through HD voice technology, which Hesse promoted at an industry conference Tuesday.

“I don’t think it will be that long before people say, ‘Let me hang up this landline and call you back on my cellphone,’” Hesse said.

Until the technologies roll out nationwide, however, Sprint customers are seeing more problems such as dropped calls, Hesse said. And that means the company loses customers.

But “once we have that behind us, look out,” Hesse said, asserting that Sprint then would have the best network for voice and data and would make a renewed push for customers.

Sprint said Chicago area customers could see peak download speeds of 50 to 60 megabits per second, assuming they had the latest devices that could use all three of Sprint’s wireless spectrum frequencies that make its Spark speeds possible.

The company plans to bring Spark to 100 markets in the next three years.

Verizon said it had added new spectrum to its LTE network, boosting potential speeds to 100 to 150 megabits per second in some major markets, according to Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer Fritzsche.

But its customers will see slower speeds in practice as the newly deployed capacity fills up. Fritzsche wrote in a note that Verizon hadn’t changed its marketing message of 5 to 12 megabits per second.

To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to mdavis@kcstar.com.

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