Sprint Corp. used a Chicago network showcase Monday to offer new customers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and announce that its clearer Sprint HD Voice service has launched nationally.
The “risk-free trial” requires customers to sign up for Sprint service but provides a refund, including the cost of the device, service charges and activation fees, for customers who aren’t satisfied in the first 30 days.
Its launch comes after T-Mobile US Inc. announced a seven-day free trial last week. T-Mobile is providing a free iPhone 5S to consumers who will provide a credit card number. It doesn’t charge the card if the customer returns the phone to a T-Mobile store after seven days.
Sprint’s satisfaction guarantee is available to new customers and some business accounts getting new lines. Existing customers can get the guarantee on new lines as well.
Like T-Mobile, Sprint said the idea of the promotion is to allow consumers to experience its network without risk.
Ryan Sullivan, a Sprint vice president of product engineering and development, said Sprint’s offer provides a longer experience on the network and assumes customers will be satisfied.
The offer is a bit of a risk for each carrier. Their data networks use LTE, or Long Term Evolution technology, but have their weak spots.
T-Mobile’s network scores well in speed tests until the testers wonder outside of major metropolitan markets. PCMag said earlier this month that “often T-Mobile’s LTE network would completely drop off the map.”
For Sprint, its LTE network continues to lag rivals in tests measurably, including the one Rootmetrics performed in Kansas City last month. Sprint ranked fourth among the national carriers overall as for reliability and speed.
Sprint especially trailed in RootMetrics’ speed test and scored lower than in its November test which was before Kansas City got Sprint’s fastest service called Sprint Spark in January.
Bill Moore, RootMetrics’ president and chief executive officer, said he suspects Spark has some transitional issues due to its newness and complexity. For example, the network uses three different frequencies and phones have to switch among them.
“We are seeing in some of the markets where Spark has happened that some of that isn’t working as well as it could,” Moore said.
Spark is in its early stages and Sprint continues to add the technology to more of its cell cites here, spokeswoman Melinda Tiemeyer said in an email. Additional technologies are expected to improve the network’s data speeds in the coming 18 months.
“As we deploy more Sprint Spark sites in Kansas City and optimize our new network, customers will enjoy faster data speeds and improved overall performance in more places throughout the area,” she said.
Sprint’s guarantee doesn’t start until Friday, which leaves potential new customers to weigh whether to wait until then to sign up.
“It could put a pause on things here for the next couple of days,” Sullivan said.
HD Voice is a technology that makes cellular calls clearer for users when both parties are on the same network and have it available on their devices. Sprint has included the technology on phones in the last couple of years.
Until the national roll out, Sprint’s HD Voice was limited to use within a given market. It now works across the network.
“You should start to see it a lot more often,” Sullivan said.
Sprint said 16 million of its subscribers have HD Voice phones. These devices handle a wider range of octaves of sound and use noise-canceling technology.
Sprint’s Framily service plan also gained a social media element with the free Framily Wall app. It works essentially as a closed social circuit controlled by the wall’s administrator.
Sullivan said a Sprint customer could set up a Framily Wall for his Framily members, one for his family members, one for a softball team, etc.
On the network side Sprint said its faster LTE, or Long Term Evolution technology, has expanded coverage to 28 markets and its fastest wireless data service called Sprint Spark is now available in three more markets.
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