Sprint Nextel, which announced tepid earnings yesterday is looking to wireless broadband to add a little sizzle to its bottomline. In conference call with analysts, Sprint-Nextel CEO Gary Forsee said that the company is moving the deployment schedule up by a quarter – from first quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2006.
“The success of our lab testing for EV-DO Rev A drove our decision to advance the deployment timeline, and I am pleased to report that we will make this exciting new service available to 40 million persons by the end of 2006,” he said. Sprint says it will have have 200 million EVDO POPs by end of the year.
Sprint, perhaps is feeling the pressure from AT&T/Cingular’s 3G services launch, and Verizon which is planning to aggressively rollout its own EVDO-Rev A service. EVDO Rev A is much faster version of the current EVDO Rev 0 technology and is capable of providing 3.1 megabits/s down, and 1.8 megabits/s upstream service. This opens up many possibilities, including high quality VoIP calling and better video streaming.
This quarter, our engineers demonstrated the first EV-DO Rev A over-the-air transmission, featuring average download speeds of 450 to 800 kilobits per second, and average upload speeds of 300 to 400 kilobits per second. We are successfully demonstrating applications, such as all-IP video telephony, high-performance push-to-talk, multi-user video conferencing, real-time gaming and video streaming — new applications which are expected to unlock tremendous new growth opportunities for our company.
Wireless data can help Sprint help blunt some of the pain caused by cheaper voice minutes. In the most recent quarter, the company had wireless data ARPU of $7.25, which is about 12% of the total ARPU. Wireless data revenue was nearly $850 million, an increase of nearly 70% year over year. The company said that Aircard business is posting robust growth, with Aircard revenue increasing 77% year over year and it has nearly 1.2 million Sprint Power Vision subscribers, up 57% sequentially. These are good indicators that wireless broadband can be a savior for the company.