Sprint said it will open 105 new stores, add about 500 local jobs and upgrade its network to help avoid spotty coverage areas.
The stores will open over the next year in Rosemont, Schaumburg, Skokie, Oak Lawn and elsewhere in Chicago and the suburbs. The company plans to hire about 500 new workers to staff those stores, said Jim Mills, Sprint president of Illinois and Wisconsin.
The wireless provider also said it has been boosting its network by adding new technologies, such as the Sprint Magic Box. The box is a wireless small cell device that boosts the network's ability to download and upload data inside homes and businesses.
The Lombard area was the first test site for the upgraded network with outdoor small cells, the Magic Boxes for indoor use, and other enhancements to the network, Mills said.
"The driver for this was demand," Mills said. "Our market share in the Chicago and suburban market has grown a lot in the past year and a half, so we needed to expand our network capacity."
Sprint, AT&T and other wireless providers have been increasing network capacity to meet consumer demand, especially those consumers who use multiple devices in the same household or business.
The added cells and network enhancements at Sprint are expected to provide quicker downloads for data, especially better streaming for video without stalling.
The network upgrades around the region, and nationwide, will take place over the next 24 months. The upgrades are also expected to lay the foundation for the coming of 5G, or the next generation of wireless.
"We need to add these steps now to the foundation in order to go to 5G," said Brian Moran, director of site development for Sprint.
Subscribers who believe a Sprint Magic Box would help boost their coverage inside their home or business need to go the website and fill out a form.
The box is free, Moran said.