Sprint announces network strategy update: "aggressive LTE roll-out"

Sprint announces network strategy update:
The day has come for Sprint’s official strategy update event and it will mostly focus around network news. The list of participants show mostly people from Sprint’s network team including Steve Elfman. President, running Network Operations and Wholesale at Sprint, and Bob Azzi, a Senior VP of Sprint's Network. Samsung, Ericsson, and Alacatel-Lucent are also joining in the event. 

But first chief executive Dan Hesse appears on stage making it clear:

“It's an update on the evolution of 3G and 4G."

Sprint's main goal here is to go for an "aggressive LTE roll-out." Sprint is aiming to quickly roll-out not just a local network, but one with a nationwide coverage. The aggressive roll-out is not only limited to a quick transition, but also means reducing costs by as much as 50% per gigabyte and improving performance and coverage. This also (not surprisingly) translates into the end of the iDEN network with customer migrations seen to end by mid-2013. 

The first devices running on the 1900MHz bands, used by LTE, are set to appear mid-2012. What about WiMAX then? Devices supporting WiMAX will be sold throughout 2012. The carrier has said it's committed to supporting the technology, but this is a rather vague statement and judging by the slides it showed - it won't add new markets in the future. Currently, WiMAX is available in 71 markets covering 120 million Americans, and it's likely to remain that way. 

Sprint also confirmed that the new LTE network will have speeds exceeding those on WiMAX. The carrier has already performed field test hitting every milestone. Here's how the network coverage is supposed to look like after the transition takes place by the end of 2013.

At the end of the program, Sprint promises to cover 250 million Americans with its LTE network, while even in 2012 the LTE coverage will already be more than the current WiMAX outreach amounting to 120 million customers.

The Now Network will use spectrum in the 800MHz and 1900MHz bands it owns, and it also expects to leverage the 1600MHz bands, which are still waiting to be approved by the FCC for use by LightSquared. The last possibility lies in the 2500MHz bands owned by Clearwire. Not going into the very technical details, this would also mean that the carrier's base stations will change, becoming much smaller and multimode, combining 3G and 4G units, so every tower supports all frequencies. Those stations will be built by Samsung, Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson.

At the same time, the new devices that come will bring a "data tsunami," a massive boost in data usage. This will force Sprint into managing data demand using content optimization through partners, apps, video going through a special gateway, WiFi usage optimization rolling out in Q4 2011 and femto cells.

Sprint has also announced that it's moving voice CDMA services to the 800MHz band meaning stronger signal, faster data, better in-building performance and coverage.

source: Sprint via Thisismynext



1. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Let's see what Sprint is doing. I am VERY interested.

2. vette21man

Posts: 351; Member since: Apr 06, 2011

Hm...mixed signals...Why is Sprint talking about "...evolution of 3G and 4G" and then in the next breath, "...The answer is the iPhone?" The iPhone 4S is not even WiMAX compatible. Ok, so is he talking about the iPhone 5/6/2.0? I can't believe Apple would change its marketing strategy and allow Sprint to announce an LTE iPhone today...especially with the 4S not even available, yet. I guess we shall see, since this story is "developing."

3. spanky

Posts: 81; Member since: Jun 02, 2011

no the answer is iPhone due to the fact that Sprint is losing subscribers because of it. Now that it is offered we will be gaining more subscribers, and causing less churn. Forcing sales people into qualifying customers, and creating a much better experience. The extra revenue created by the iPhone and gain in subscribers will allow Sprint to agressively roll out the LTE transition. It makes sense that with all carriers being on LTE that a version of the iPhone will come with an LTE radio. It only makes sense. There is no 1x version of it, because everyone has 3g...

20. Laron unregistered

Well put.

4. Sprintemployee316 unregistered

Because Vette21man Hesse is talking about it evolution because one we are making our 3g(CDMA) better and giving it more spectrum so you don't have a clogged network(ATT) and the 4g because it's evolving from WiMax to LTE. Apparently you need to go back and reread this and you'll understand!

12. vette21man

Posts: 351; Member since: Apr 06, 2011

Agreed...I posted too soon! This does seem to make sense...it seems when current iPhone 4S customers are ready for upgrade, Sprint's LTE network should be widely in place, so that an LTE iPhone can thrive. For next year, it remains questionable for Apple...release an LTE iPhone? Wondering if enough markets in any carrier will be wide enough by then. This would make even more sense for Apple to fully redesign the next iPhone...as adopting LTE (and larger screen) will undoubtedly require better battery management (possibly larger battery).

5. dacastrator

Posts: 232; Member since: Sep 22, 2011

I'm predicting the end of unlimited data plan.

6. perry83 unregistered

Being a sprint customer and sprint vendor employee im excited about these network changes. The improved 3g and the "aggreessive rollout of LTE" will help 4G get to where I live faster.

8. perry83 unregistered

With these network changes (IDEN Decommission, Clearwire + Lightsquared spectrum holdings) Sprint will be able to increase capacity beyond VZW, ATT, & T-Mo, which puts less strain on the network and help them avoid data caps/throttling on phones.

7. Tottenham

Posts: 86; Member since: Jan 05, 2011

I'd like to know exactly what is meant by "Commitment tio WiMax". Stating that WiMax devices will be sold throughout 2012 tells me that Sprint has the intentions of supporting that technology until at least the end of 2014. Does this mean that Sprint will continue to expand it's markets with 4G coverage (no new markets introduced in a long time), or merely support its existing areas of coverage? I hope it's the former, as I hate to think that I'm going to have to wait until summer of 2013 to purchase a subsidized LTE phone before I get to experience 4G speed in my home market. Love the phones, customer service, and pricing that Sprint offers. Hate waiting for the technology to catch up to the other big players.

9. Victor.H

Posts: 1076; Member since: May 27, 2011

I was just finishing the article adding this stuff - on the slides Sprint showed, it says the company will cover 120 million users with its WiMAX network in 2012, and the number will stay the same in 2013. So that means it won't add new 4G markets, but will instead focus on 4G. Sorry to break the bad news!

10. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

it probably just means "we arent going to shut it off for 3-4 years" same thing their "commitment to IDEN" meant. Basically, when LTE rolls out, it looks like they have a 2 year window until they cover the network with it.. so dont buy a wimax phone after the LTE one's start rolling out.

11. Tottenham

Posts: 86; Member since: Jan 05, 2011

That's messed up!. But thanks for the additonal info Victor. Hopefully Sprint will do the right thing and give some kind of early upgrade subsidy to it's existing WiMax device users (especially to those residing in new LTE, non-WiMax markets).

13. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

No Victor. What this means, is that there will be no more added WiMAX markets. WiMAX currently

14. Slammer

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 03, 2010

No Victor. What this means, is that there will be no more added WiMAX markets. WiMAX currently has 71 markets covering 120 million pops. LTE will overlap and extend to far more markets covering 270 million pops. John B.

15. skymitch89

Posts: 1453; Member since: Nov 05, 2010

From what I understand, it would mean that after 2013 Sprint will no longer be expanding WiMax coverage; but will instead be adding/expanding LTE coverage. Also, they plan to cover their current WiMax areas with LTE.

17. Tottenham

Posts: 86; Member since: Jan 05, 2011

Actually, looking at the map to which Victor was referring (the overlapping circles), I'm inclined to believe Sprint is going to focus a lot of its initial LTE growth in markets that do not currently have WiMax coverage, as it is showing 123MM covered in 2012, but only a 67MM LTE/WiMax overlap. To me that means 56MM current customers w/o 4G service will be able to step up to the 4G all-you-can-eat buffet.

18. Tottenham

Posts: 86; Member since: Jan 05, 2011

Before someone else corrects me, let me restate that the map refers to "population" covered by LTE and WiMax, not necessarily "customers". But still the same assumption that a good number of new markets will be getting LTE early in the transition, while a lot of current WiMax markets will remain as-is till sometime in 2013.

16. skymitch89

Posts: 1453; Member since: Nov 05, 2010

It'd be nice if they do get almost all their LTE coverage done by end of 2013. That would mean that once I'm done with my contract in 2013, I'd be able to upgarde to an LTE device (if I don't before then).

19. bweave unregistered

Sprint couldn't add more WiMax markets because Clear is broke. After all, Sprint had a distribution deal with Clear as a major stakeholder, but they don't own the network. They have to offer support for WiMax for a period of 10 years per an agreement with the FCC that was signed when they moved to adopt WiMax. As a customer for 8+ years I am glad to see Sprint being run by someone with a vision for the company. My only hope is that it hasn't come to late.

21. corporateJP

Posts: 2458; Member since: Nov 28, 2009

I hope it works for Sprint and consumers.

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