Sprint (NYSE: FON, PCS), is introducing “PCS Vision”, a next generation wireless service that is headed to retail stores and Sprint business channels nationwide beginning next week.

The launch of the so-called 3G, or thired generation of wireless services which is all digital, covers Sprint PCS markets with populations of at least 100,000 in the initial rollout. PCS Vision will offer services nationwide, along with peak data speeds 10 times faster than available previously and improved applications. These capabilities are due to the strength of the enhanced Sprint Nationwide PCS Network.

Tom Matthews, public relations manager for Sprint in the Carolinas, Virginia and Tennessee, says the network is already in place, but that the official launch of the PCS Vision service won’t happen until next week because of equipment holdups.

“The network actually has been turned up for a while,” Matthews says. “Unlike our competitors, where there’s voice, there’s Vision. The network is turned up and fully operational. Right now, the only holdup is equipment, and that should be available everywhere by next week.”

Initially, PCS Vision will include services that allow consumer and business customers to use their Vision-enabled PCS Devices to take and receive pictures, check personal and corporate e-mail, play games with full-color graphics and polyphonic sounds and browse the Internet wirelessly with speeds comparable to a home computer’s dial-up connection.

“Our customers tell us they’re ready for a wireless device that does more than make a phone call,” William T. Esrey, chairman and chief executive officer of Sprint, said in a statement. “PCS Vision brings together all the devices, applications and content that make it faster and easier than ever for Sprint customers to communicate, access information, entertain themselves, conduct transactions and take their desktops with them wherever they are across our enhanced Sprint Nationwide PCS Network.”

Prices for services, devices vary

Sprint initially is offering the service as a bundle of voice and data ranging from $44.99 to $119.99 per month, including varying amounts of voice minutes and varying blocks of megabytes for data usage.

Seven Vision-enabled phones will hit the market at first, ranging in price from $179.99 to $499.99. In the following weeks, immediate additions to the line up of Vision-enabled PCS Devices are expected to include four new phones ranging in price from $199.99 to $799.99. In both rollouts, the highest-priced models are phone-handheld combinations.

Sprint says it plans to expand throughout the remainder of this year and into 2003 with a set of applications, content and new capabilities such as streaming audio and video, and even faster data speeds. Each application will be represented with an icon that conveys the concept of PCS Vision. All customer touchpoints will feature the PCS Vision icons allowing customers to know at a glance which application is represented.

In conjunction with the nationwide introduction of PCS Vision, Sprint also announced that it is the first U.S. carrier to complete a nationwide 3G 1X network upgrade. The enhanced Sprint Nationwide PCS Network will provide peak speeds of up to 144 kbps, with average user speeds of 50 to 70 kbps. Using its single technology, single-frequency, all-CDMA network, Sprint’s migration was assisted by several infrastructure vendors that provided network infrastructure equipment and technology support. They included Bytemobile, CommWorks, HP, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, Nortel Networks, Openwave Systems, QUALCOMM and Samsung.

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