updated 06:28 pm EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Carrier deploys LTE in 28 new markets, Framily Wall offers private social media
During an event in Chicago today, Sprint announced an expansion to its LTE and Spark market offerings. An additional 28 LTE markets were added to Sprint's growing coverage, as well as launching Spark in three new areas. The carrier also unveiled a new private and secure social media space for customers, called Sprint Framily Wall in a joint effort with Family & Co.
Including new markets gaining LTE coverage like Cleveland, San Jose and Seattle, the carrier is now believed to cover 225 million customers across 471 cities. Sprint's goal is to hit 250 million customers with LTE coverage by mid-year. According to the company, the network has been "transformed" for improved call quality and faster data speeds. Sprint said that there is also a "marked decrease" in blocked and dropped calls.
News of the expansion comes at a time when Sprint needed to have advancement in its offerings in LTE. The company is still behind the leading carriers, Verizon and AT&T, in LTE coverage expansion across the United States. Sprint Spark was thought to help fill a gap for coverage by using a tri-band radio LTE approach.
Spark saw a smaller expansion than Sprint's LTE market expansion, added three new markets served including St. Louis, Greensboro and Winston-Salem. The additional areas bring up the total number of customers served by 50Mbps to 60Mbps peak speeds to 27 markets. The goal is for Sprint to reach 100 million people served by Spark by the end of the year.
In order to help that along, Sprint is going to install 8T8R radios that are able to transmit more data. The radios allow Spark customers to have more coverage and higher data speeds in the 2.5 GHz spectrum. The carrier is currently testing the radios, but eyeing a launch sometime this summer.
A surprise announcement from Sprint came in the form of Framily Wall. Calling it the first "private social media space" from a national carrier, Framily Wall offers customers a way to connect that isn't publicly facing, unlike a service such as Facebook. The service, though not yet available, is accessed through an app, which is free for existing Sprint and Framily plan customers. The app is will be launched initially for Android phones, with availability coming soon for iOS devices, Windows phones and Android tablets. The app is made in conjunction with Family & Co, the company behind Family Wall.
"At Sprint, it is important to offer our customers innovative products and services to help make their lives easier and more productive," said Sprint senior vice president of marketing Tom Roberts. "We are excited to be working with Family & Co to give our customers a private and secure place to share photos, calendars and send messages with friends and family."
Framily Wall features a venue for communication, such as sending messages and pictures to other users -- either to a selection of wall users, or privately to individual members. It can also be used to locate phones, see when others check in, organize calendars and contacts and create photo albums. A $3 per month, the paid version of the app comes with an increase from 100 MB to 10 GB of storage space, video and voice messaging, the uploading of HD photos and video sharing.
Additional announcements from the carrier include the nationwide availability of Sprint HD Voice and International Wi-Fi calling and texting.