Sprint Rolls Out HD Voice, LTE-A, All While Reportedly Getting 8 Banks to Finance Pending T-Mobile Deal

Sprint is working hard as it reportedly prepares to make an official bid for T-Mobile USA.

First, Sprint – the third-largest in wireless operator in the United States – said yesterday its HD voice services now are available nationwide on 28 smartphones for post-paid subscribers, and on 33 handsets for pre-paid customers.

Next, the company also said it has expanded its 4G LTE mobile broadband footprint to 28 more markets. That brings the total number of cities with that coverage from Sprint to 471. The new markets include Seattle, Cleveland, Ohio, and San Jose, Calif. Sprint’s LTE network now reaches more than 225 million people; the provider aims to hit 250 million soon.

At the same time, Sprint also has taken its “Sprint Spark” LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) coverage (with data speeds averaging 6Mbps-15Mbps and peak speeds reaching 50Mbps-60Mbps, according to TeleGeography) to three other markets: St. Louis, Mo., Winston-Salem, N.C., and Greensboro, N.C. That gives Sprint Spark a total footprint of 27 cities, up from 18 in March; Sprint has said it intends to reach 100 million people with LTE-A services by the end of this year.

And, when it comes to Sprint’s pending, proposed takeover of No. 4 wireless operator T-Mobile, Reuters reported this week that Sprint has lined up eight banks to finance the deal. The news service said the debt package exceeds $40 billion, including an approximately $20 billion bridge loan from Sprint majority owner SoftBank, and about $20 billion for refinancing T-Mobile’s existing debt. Sources told Reuters that three banks in Japan have agreed to underwrite the deal, along with five global banks, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citigroup.

Finally, Sprint continues to compete with its soon-to-be partner. The Kansas City-based provider is offering a 30-day free trial of its wireless services, going head-to-head with T-Mobile, which recently started offering potential users a free trial for one week.

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