Overhauling a nationwide wireless network isn't exactly for the faint of heart, but Sprint continues marching toward its LTE future and the broader plan known as Network Vision. With a majority of the rollout to be in place by 2013, the carrier is working to bring multi-modal functionality and spectrum integration to its towers, which the provider suggests will deliver expanded coverage, stronger signal and fewer dropped calls for all customers. Earlier this year, Sprint launched its first multi-modal tower in Branchburg, New Jersey, and has now completed its first cluster of sites in Kanakee, Illinois. With the first LTE-capable devices on track for a mid-2012 arrival, Sprint claims that it's wrapped-up field tests and is poised for a rapid LTE deployment. We certainly hope so, because AT&T and Verizon are hardly wasting time in flooding the airwaves with blistering 4G goodness. You'll find the full PR after the break.

[Thanks, Xavier]
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Sprint delivers 3G network upgrades coast-to-coast, marks significant milestones in Network Vision deployment

As 2011 draws to a close, Sprint customers from New York City to San Francisco now enjoy enhanced 3G coverage, resulting in faster data speeds and fewer dropped calls

LTE deployment is on track for 2013

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), December 27, 2011 - As part of its Network Vision program, Sprint (NYSE:S) doubled its 2011 capital investment over 2010 to make tens of thousands of capacity upgrades, resulting in a better wireless experience for its customers. Smartphone penetration is expected to double over the next four years.* With Network Vision, Sprint is making it easier for data to travel, so its smartphone customers – who use on average 10 times more data than feature phone customers* – can use their devices the way they were intended.

As a result of the network improvements across the country, voice service is enhanced and Sprint customers can expect to see better performance on their smartphones, mobile broadband connection cards and mobile hotspots when using the Sprint 3G network. Performance improvements include:

Faster data speeds that enable instant web access for news updates, HD viewing and game-playing, quicker video downloads and clear video chats

Better signal strength when making a call or using the web

Fewer dropped calls for peace of mind when talking to friends, family or colleagues

"With the network investments we made in 2011 and as the only national wireless carrier to offer truly unlimited data plans while on the Sprint network, we continue to offer better value than Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T." said Bob Azzi, SVP – Network, Sprint. "But our commitment to an exceptional wireless experience doesn't stop there. Sprint's on an aggressive path to roll out Network Vision, and in collaboration with our partners, have already achieved many significant milestones that offer improved customer experience on the Sprint 3G network, and we expect to maintain and even accelerate this momentum in 2012."

Throughout 2011, Sprint achieved a number of significant milestones in the deployment of Network Vision. It is on track to offer LTE devices by mid-year 2012 and complete the majority of its Network Vision rollout in 2013. Sprint expects to make additional announcements about the timing of LTE markets and devices early next year. Milestones include:

Completed development and integration of back-office systems to support the new base stations to ensure a seamless rollout

Finished lab testing of all components of the Network Vision platform, eliminating most technical risks of the program and validating rapid LTE deployment schedule

Launched Sprint Direct Connect® on CDMA and introduced three devices, allowing our iDEN customers to move to a truly mobile data experience with a comparable platinum push-to-talk experience

Launched first multi-modal base station in Branchburg, N.J., and validated improved 3G data performance metrics, such as voice quality, drops and blocks and data speeds

Launched first cluster of cell sites in Kankakee, Ill. and completing field integration testing

Nationwide, Sprint is overhauling its entire network and replacing existing equipment with the newest, most advanced equipment available in the industry through a program called Network Vision. Announced in December 2010, Network Vision is planned to consolidate multiple network technologies into one seamless network with the goal of increasing efficiency and enhancing network coverage, call quality and data speeds for customers.

Network Vision and the recent upgrades reflect Sprint's commitment to customer service, which tied for the No. 1 spot among major wireless carriers for customer satisfaction in the 2011 American Customer Satisfaction Index. The survey showed Sprint as the most improved company in customer satisfaction, across all industries, over the past three years.