Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Sprint Aims for 1 Gigabit-Per-Second Speeds as Soon as 2017

Sprint Corp. is aiming to offer its customers peak wireless speeds of 1 gigabit per second next year -- about 100 times faster than most wireless services -- in hopes it can boost its service reputation and attract more customers.

Sprint is using three new wireless technologies -- carrier aggregation, MIMO (multiple input, multiple output), and HPUE (high power user equipment) -- that will help the struggling wireless carrier better use its vast trove of 2.5 gigahertz spectrum and reach that ultra-fast speed in 2017 and 2018, according to Chief Technology Officer John Saw. 

The push could help the company compete with AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. on network quality, not just price. Sprint owns the largest piece of 2.5-GHz spectrum in the U.S. It’s been promising for years that with enough infrastructure, the airwaves could create America’s fastest wireless network.

That spectrum is high-frequency, which doesn’t travel well through buildings but is good for expanding network capacity and carrying more traffic. The idea behind Sprint’s strategy is to be less reliant on big cell towers and more focused on getting smaller antennas closer to the street.

Saw, at an event Tuesday, said the HPUE technology in particular will boost the phone’s power while helping to extend the reach of Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum. That would solve a key problem that has dogged the company and led to lesser network quality.

“This will help us keep customers on the higher-band capacity for a longer time,” Saw said.

Most of Sprint’s new phones will be activated to work with the technologies in the first half of 2017. Apple Inc.’s iPhones won’t be part of the initial list of activated phones. Introduction is to be determined.

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