Why I'm Done Making Excuses for Sprint: I Don't Have To.

10/19/2012 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments

So I'm a Sprint customer.  Voluntarily.  I'm not ashamed to say it.  I, like many, have had my service complaints.  I am aware of the state much of Sprint's network has been in the past few years, and I work with 3G and LTE on Verizon and AT&T daily as well as HSPA+ on AT&T, so I'm very aware of what the alternatives are.  I'm also aware of the alternative pricing.

I worked for Sprint for a while in the Central Illinois market.  That's about as bad as you are going to get in the country.  Most of the market used to be owned by IPCS , who was a Sprint affiliate before it was bought out by Sprint, and it was in need of some desperate back haul due to horrendous capacity and speed issues.  Voice was fine, until they shifted some voice capacity to supplement data capacity sometime around the end of 2011/beginning of 2012, then just about everything was difficult to use.

I worked for Sprint, so I of course used the service, but being someone who rarely used voice and was usually near Wi-Fi (as is becoming more and more the case for most people), I probably would have been a Sprint customer anyway to save the extra 10-20 bucks a month.  I went through 2 different WiMax phones (the GS1 Epic 4G and Nexus S 4G).  There were only about 2 blocks of WiMax 4G coverage in my city, but I got to use it often when I was out of town in either Chicago or St. Louis.

Not to say data service didn't bother me.  If you are a Sprint customer and dislike your service, imaging being someone that uses Sprint service AND has to help all the customers that dislike it.  Many people were patient with the network and understood that they would be paying more elsewhere, so they were willing to work with learning how to use Wi-Fi and use less data intensive apps (like the Opera browser was a popular one).

I loved it, though.  Sprint was a great company to work for and I learned to have tremendous faith in their vision (for the company and the network).  Dan Hesse is a great leader and Sprint is full of so many great employees that give it a face and brand image that you will never get from AT&T or Verizon.

Sprint also had many features you couldn't find elsewhere that I absolutely loved.  One was its cooperation with Google.  Sprint lets you sync your Sprint number over to Google Voice, so I can send and receive text messages from my google voice client on my phone, tablet, or chrome extension, all from the same number I'm billed for by Sprint.  Sprint was also one of the first to offer Android Market (and later Google Play Store) carrier billing.  In addition to Google Voice, Sprint widely accepted Google Wallet, and you can find it on all of their NFC enabled Android phones (and they have also announced all future LTE Android phones will include NFC), whereas it is blocked on any carrier branded phones by AT&T or Verizon (even Verizon's Galaxy Nexus, which isn't supposed to have carrier software tampering).  I love me my Google services and they were not only available through Sprint, but also easier to integrate into my phone service instead of just running alongside (such as having a separate phone number and Google Voice number as many do).

I have moved on in my career, but I stayed in mobility.  I moved to Sprint's Chicago market, but I maintained my Sprint service, but was now getting mostly usable 3G and pretty consist ant WiMax and near constant Wi-Fi availability.  Many Sprint customers in Chicagoland had been fed up with the quality of service, but for me it was a great upgrade and I was loving it.  The Chicago market covers most of NE Illinois (even part of NW Indiana) and in some places the service was better than others.  Many areas were having massive outages due to he Network Vision/LTE upgrades going on, but I found a great site (http://s4gru.com/) to keep me up to date and confirmed my confidence in the carrier.  I got a Galaxy Nexus LTE and was able to witness the rollout of LTE as I would notice new areas lighting up daily, I even ran the sensorly app to track how fast LTE blanket coverage was coming, and let me tell you.  With the coverage and speed of Sprint LTE with unlimited data and Sprint's pricing... Seriously, forget your preconception and your misconceptions.  This is a new Sprint and a new network and it is only the beginning.

As I witnessed the LTE rollout I also got to watch Sprint's stock skyrocket.  Sprint was on the comeback I had been talking about and everyone else was finally noticing.  Just the beginning of this week, Sprint officially announced it is being bough by Japan's biggest carrier, Soft Bank, in a deal that will be great not only for Sprint shareholders, but Sprint customers.  Part of the deal includes 8 BILLION dollars of up front capital for Sprint to use to pay off dept and speed the progress of the network upgrade.

Look at Sprint 5 years ago vs today and you will see the impressive decisions that have been made by leadership and especially Dan Hesse.  I won't declare them out of the woods 100% yet, but anything negative I have ever heard anyone say about them is being taken away, so I must ask: "what now?"  Sprint gets numerous awards each year being market at the top of the industry in customer service and satisfaction (that's before the network upgrade even BEGAN).  Sprint's stock price is more than doubled this year and they were prepaying some of their long term debt back BEFORE news of the acquisition broke and now they have a huge cash influx to improve on.  Their network vision plans set them up with the most advanced and future proof network in the country and the President of Japan's Soft Bank claims they will bring even more network enhancements to the US with "technology and services that U.S. citizens have never experienced.”

So I'm done defending Sprint and making excuses for why I was proud to work there and happy to pay them for my monthly service as a customer.  I don't have to provide excuses anymore.  The US Wireless market is about to get shaken up, and not by T-Mobile and Metro PCS.  The Now Network is finally earning its namesake.


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