Sprint says 'all phones' next year will be triband, get HD voice

Every Sprint smartphone will be able to pick up the three different spectrum frequencies the carrier runs. The exception, of course, is the iPhone, which Sprint declined to comment on.

Mysterious Sprint Spark phone
How mysterious. Sprint keeps two Spark compatible phones, literally, under wraps. Lynn La/CNET

Every Sprint smartphone released next year will be able to pick up the three different spectrum frequencies the carrier runs, allowing for a much speedier connection and high-definition voice.

Well, almost every phone.

That's according to Sprint Chief Financial Officer Joe Euteneuer, who was speaking at an investor conference on Wednesday. The exception, which Euteneuer was sure to point out, was Apple. He only noted that he doesn't know what Apple is doing with the next iPhone, or whether it will jam in compatibility with all three frequencies.

The triband capability is critical to improving the speeds on Sprint's network, which has been a knock on the carrier with the company slow to upgrade to 4G LTE. The triband capability is key to Sprint Spark, its brand for even faster LTE service. Even as smaller T-Mobile surpasses Sprint in markets and people covered and Verizon and AT&T press their LTE advantage, Sprint has been slow to respond and is losing customers.

Euteneuer said he sees the customer turnover rate falling as the company works to improve network coverage. The company is also working off Nextel business customers who waited until the last day before the network shut down before canceling their lines, which also included associated Sprint accounts as well.

Down the line, Sprint plans to stand out through a higher speed network, Euteneuer said. The different frequencies and their higher capacities allow for a faster connection, he added. Verizon Wireless, for instance, said it is targeting speeds of 8 megabits to 12 megabits a second once it expands its network with new spectrum. Euteneuer said he would plan to top those speeds.

"The goal is to go faster," he said. "You'll be pretty happy with the experience."

Euteneuer also teased different pricing plans or features to come in the fourth quarter that would "demonstrate our creativeness and refocus our sales."

Sprint has long pegged its core service to unlimited data, recently going further and offering a lifetime guarantee for unlimited data. But Euteneuer hinted unlimited could come to an end, and said it would stop if it no longer became viable.

"We're trying to protect unlimited for as long as possible," he said. "We believe we have a long runway with it."

Euteneuer also disclosed that Sprint was not going to bid for additional spectrum in the upcoming H-block auction. Sprint had been seen as a lead bidder for the spectrum, but Euteneuer said the company was deterred by the government restrictions and said it would focus on lower band spectrum. There was already limited interest in the spectrum because it was separated from a potentially larger swath of auction for further down the line.

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About the author

Roger Cheng is the executive editor in charge of breaking news for CNET News. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade. He's a devoted Trojan alum and Los Angeles Lakers fan.



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