Sprint announced a “breakthrough innovation” Tuesday to make its high-capacity wireless network stretch up to 30 percent farther and boost network coverage for its customers.
Two years in the making, High Performance User Equipment gained official certification from an industry standards panel on Dec. 6. It will be taken up by Sprint, its parent company in Japan called SoftBank Group Corp., China Mobile and other carriers with similar network technologies.
“This is a huge development for us,” Günther Ottendorfer, Sprint’s chief operating officer of technology, said during a conference call with reporters. “There is a huge ecosystem behind it.”
Think of it as handing customers a stronger cellphone, hence the name Higher Performance User Equipment. Sprint said devices with the new technology would reach the market during the first half of 2017.
Essentially, the technology strengthens the phone’s uplink signal to the nearest cell tower, at least on the high-capacity wireless signals that Sprint uses to carry the bulk of subscribers’ data signals. The signal a phone sends to the network asking for data is weaker than the signal the network can send back to the phone carrying the data.
“If we can improve that (uplink), we’d pretty much expand coverage, and that’s what we’ve done,” John Saw, Sprint’s chief technology officer, said on the call.
The stronger uplink signal means a tap asking to stream a video or download an app can be 30 percent farther from a base station than before and still connect. Customers will have faster data speeds as well, Sprint said.
Sprint said the technology also would help its high-capacity network to reach inside buildings better than before to retrieve those uplink requests for data. The company said the changes leave in place the network’s ability to carry large amounts of data to users on the downlink from the network to devices.