RealTime IT News

Sprint ION Charges into New Markets

Sprint Corp. Wednesday expanded its consumer high-speed communication service bundle to four new markets in California and Arizona.

Sprint ION services is a communications package that combines local and long-distance calling options with high-speed Internet services over multiple phone lines.

Consumers in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and Phoenix can tap into Sprint's service area expansion.

The new markets join Austin, Dallas, Denver, Ft. Worth, Kansas City and Seattle as the first 10 metro areas nationwide to receive the all-in-one voice and data service.

Bob Thompson, Sprint's president of national consumer services, said there are many alternatives to Sprint's broadband services, but that no other company provides a comprehensive communications service bundle.

"While there are several options for broadband services, Sprint ION is the only offer that integrates high-speed Internet access with local and long-distance calling services, and does so over a single converged network," Thompson said.

"Because Sprint ION offers simultaneous use of multiple voice and data services, families don't have to vie for time online or phone use," Thompson added. "Sprint ION's integrated design lets consumers manage their services to best suit their individual household needs."

Sprint ION includes unlimited high-speed Internet access with download speeds up to 8 megabits per second and up to four voice or data lines, each with advanced features like caller identification and voicemail. Unlimited local calling is part of the program, which include 750 minutes of domestic long distance service for $159 a month.

Thompson said service expansion is only one part of Sprint's consumer broadband strategy.

"Sprint is taking a portfolio approach to broadband services," Thompson said. "In May, 1999 we began rolling out a high-speed Internet service that now reaches 12 of the largest markets served by Sprint's local telephone division. With rapid growth in our wireline and wireless network infrastructure, we see an opportunity to become one of the nation's leading consumer broadband providers."

Analysts have questioned Sprint's ability to deploy its broadband service nationwide, citing the service rollout as cumbersome, when compared to other communications services.

Steve Lunceford, Sprint spokesperson, said Sprint's deployment plan is on schedule

"We've always said Sprint ION would be in 25 markets by the end of the year and we're half-way there," Lunceford said. Sprint is on target with the plan for this year, and by 2001 we plan to offer broadband services in 75 to 100 U.S. markets."

Lunceford added that analysts would see a lot of broadband activity over the news few months.

"We've been busy expanding our entire broadband portfolio, ION services," Lunceford said. "The premier product set is one piece of our broadband strategy."

"As we go forward over the next two or three months, Sprint intends to expand our high-speed portfolio beyond out super set of services," Lunceford added. Sprint plans to rollout DSL access our local markets, while we continue to work on fixed wireless broadband access in Arizona."

When Sprint's DSL buildout is completed this year it pass 23 million homes across the country. Additionally, Sprint's fixed-wireless services will be capable of reaching roughly 30 million U.S. homes.