Posts tagged ‘Sprint’

Sprint looking to live up to its name with 1.3GHz TD-LTE demo

1300MHz_Sprint_TDDLTE

Sprint has demoed speeds of over 1.3Gbps in tests with its infrastructure partner NSN

Despite its name, Sprint, the US carrier, was for the past couple of years, left in the slow lane for data as it saw its rivals Verizon Wirelesss, and AT&T streak ahead and launch LTE. However, in recent months it has gone through a large amount of network evolution, retiring its iDEN network, and acquiring Clearwire, giving it access to a large swathe of spectrum, enabling it to complete with the big guys.

Recently it announced Sprint Spark, which it dubs an ‘ultra-fast’ LTE service delivering speeds of 50-60Mbps. In a recent interview with the LTE World Series, Dr. John Saw, SVP, Technical Architecture, of Sprint said it plans to do this using a bunch of LTE Advanced technologies, specifically carrier aggregation to make 40, 60 and 80MHz bandwidth pipes, and MIMO techniques.

It hasn’t happened quite yet though, and according to this test in early November 2013 from the Wall Street Times, Walt Mossberg, who performed LTE 20 speed tests in three locations, AT&T is the fastest overall network. However, it does vary greatly by region, and if you look at 2min 54 in the video on the page you’ll see that in Silicon Valley, the heartland of all things tech, Sprint easily wins with average speeds of over 20Mbps, nearly double of AT&T.

However, it’s not content with stopping there. As demonstrated in the video below it has conducted tests with its new partner NSN, where, in test conditions, it has achieved a heady 1.3Gbps on the downlink in a single sector, around 10 times the throughput of today’s commercial networks. This is using its TDD spectrum on 2.5GHz band. TD-LTE is of course particularly efficient use of spectrum and the high frequency enables the faster speeds.

As impressive as that sounds, it’s worth stepping back and observing that this is only slightly faster than the speeds that up until just a few years ago, the ITU officially designated at 4G. True 4G was originally only meant to be used for networks that could deliver 100Mbps on the move, and 1Gbps when stationary. Anything below that was really an enhancement of 3G, until the US networks starting marketing 4G as basically anything. Anyway, semantics aside, it’s impressive that LTE is moving forward at a rapid pace.

The video is presented by Steven Bye, Chief Technical Officer for Sprint. While Steven is a regular at Informa’s LTE events he isn’t at LTE North America, but the aforementioned John Saw, SVP, Technical Architecture is appearing, and will be giving a keynote speech on Day One of the LTE North America 2013 conference, taking place on Thursday 21st November 2013.

Interview: SVP, Technical Architecture, Sprint: “We have the ability to build a bigger pipe than the competition because of our spectrum position.”

Dr. John Saw, SVP, Technical Architecture, Sprint

Dr. John Saw, SVP, Technical Architecture, Sprint

Dr. John Saw, SVP, Technical Architecture, Sprint is delivering a keynote address on “Analyzing the LTE Opportunity”, on Day One of the LTE North America conference, taking place on the 21st-22nd November 2013, in Dallas, Texas, USA. Ahead of the show he tells us more about how Sprint is differentiating itself from the competition and gives us the low down on its Spark brand. 

It’s a crowded market out there. How is your network differentiated from the competition?

How we’re different is pretty simple. We have the ability to build a bigger pipe than the competition because of our spectrum position, especially in the top 100 markets. We have a lot of contiguous spectrum at 2.5GHz, and this allows for carrier aggregation to build the big pipes we need to ultimately offer better performance, faster speeds, and unlimited data. We actually want customers to use our LTE network because we will have the capacity to support the demand for high speed data. Where it’s really coming together (how we’re different) can be seen in Sprint SparkSM – an effort that we expect to bring together some of the most advanced technologies in wireless to deliver unprecedented speeds.

The LTE North America conference is taking place on the 21st-22nd November 2013, in Dallas, Texas, USA. Click here NOW to download a brochure for the event.

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Interview: Senior Systems Engineer, Sprint: “We expect that small cells will be key to 2500MHz network densification.”

Patrick Urgento, Senior Systems Engineer, Sprint

Patrick Urgento, Senior Systems Engineer, Sprint

Patrick Urgento, Senior Systems Engineer, Sprint is speaking in the “Future of LTE” track on Day Two of the LTE North America conference, taking place on the 21st-22nd November 2013, in Dallas, Texas, USA. Ahead of the show we speak to him about how its progressing with deploying LTE at three frequencies at once. 

What are the biggest challenges involved in integrating the Clearwire TD-LTE spectrum you recently acquired with Sprint’s existing LTE network?

There really hasn’t been a major challenge with Integrating Clearwire’s spectrum.  Before the acquisition, there was a plan in to integrate more than 5000 Clearwire TD-LTE sites by the end of the year, and that is on track to be completed. We are in the process of selecting several thousand more Clearwire sites for the first half of 2014. Clearwire had done an amazing job operating a low cost network and we have been working on interoperability with Clearwire site vendors and Sprint EPC core vendors for a while.  As these sites come online and customers access them, we expect they can see speeds in the tens of Mbps.

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Interview: Vice president of Sprint Technology development and corporate strategy: “The three largest economies in the world all embrace Band 41 and represent nearly two billion potential subscribers.”

Ron Marquardt, vice president of Sprint Technology development and corporate strategy

Ron Marquardt, vice president of Sprint Technology development and corporate strategy

Ron Marquardt, vice president of Sprint Technology development and corporate strategy is delivering a keynote address of Day Two of the Broadband World Forum, taking place on the 22nd – 24th October 2013 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam. Ahead of the show we speak to him about how China’s adoption of Band 41 affects the TD-LTE eco-system, and find out how Sprint responds to rival claims that its support of unlimited data is untenable.

What is the current road map for competing with the LTE network of the other major telcos in the US?

All major carriers in the US have been deploying LTE aggressively across multiple frequency bands. We have been and continue to deploy LTE across three different frequency bands within the Sprint network, including 800MHz, 1900MHz and 2.5GHz. This provides customers with a great combination of 4G coverage and capacity.  We are deploying both FDD-LTE and TDD-LTE, and with the combination of the bands provide a benefit which is greater than the sum of the parts.

Last year China chose Band 41 for TD-LTE.  What impact did that news have on the TD-LTE eco-system and specifically for Clearwire?

The Chinese government indeed adopted Band 41, specifying the 2.5 GHz spectrum allocation via the MIIT, the Chinese equivalent of the U.S. FCC, and this was announced by the MIIT’s vice minister at the ITU meeting in Dubai, October, 2012.  Sprint, SoftBank and Clearwire have all been very strong advocates for TDD-LTE for some time and now the three largest economies in the world all embrace Band 41 and represent nearly two billion potential subscribers.   We are working very closely with SoftBank to drive the ecosystem.

You have a lot of high frequency capacity spectrum. How will you be using other technologies, such as small cells, to supplement the network to enable greater coverage?

Small cells are just one tool, which we have as part of our network deployment and we will use whatever tools are available and cost effective to meet the needs of our customers. We have been deploying small cells for some time, ranging from residential femto-cells, enterprise femto-cells and pico-cells. The primary focus has been to address in-door coverage and capacity needs.

The Broadband World Forum is taking place on the 22nd – 24th October 2013 at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam. Click here to download a brochure for the event and here to register for a conference pass.

You have shut down iDEN to reduce network complexity but now operate both TD-LTE and FDD LTE networks.  To what extent does that increase complexity once again, and what is your roadmap for CDMA?

Having both FDD and TDD LTE does not complicate Sprint’s network the way iDEN did.  iDEN was a completely separate network with duplicate costs and management needs. We are repurposing the 800MHz spectrum that was being used for the Nextel Network to support CDMA and LTE.

How do you respond to rival’s claims that sticking with unlimited data plans will impact quality of experience?

Some people believe the ability to support unlimited is somehow related to physics. It is not clear which school of physics they believe is related to offering customers a better experience.  However, it is very clear our competitors are setting up toll booths and charging customers for their usage, while watching the meter and their cash registers turn over. I guess as their customer you can always choose to avoid the LTE toll roads they are building and stay on Wi-Fi. We take a very different approach.  We are focused on the needs of our customers and we listen to our customers. We actually encourage our customers to use our LTE network – unlimited is all about simplicity and convenience.

Stephen Bye, CTO, Sprint: “Our focus on the customer is paying dividends”

Ahead of the LTE North America show next week on 14-15 November at the Fairmont Dallas Hotel, Texas, we speak with one of the leading US carriers about its LTE progress. Stephen Bye is the CTO and vice president of technology development & strategy for Sprint, the third largest carrier in the US. He gives us details on Sprint’s progress on LTE and how it continues to differentiate itself from its rivals.

What have been the main developments for you over the last six months with regards to LTE?

Our focus continues to be on improving the customer experience by modernising the network through the Network Vision program. We are utilizing the 800MHz and 1900MHz spectrum for enhanced CDMA coverage and performance with support for LTE. Our recent launch of LTE has been the culmination of substantial development over many months by many teams within Sprint and working together with our key strategic vendors: Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent and Samsung.

Sprint launched 4G LTE in more than fifteen cities including Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio. We expect to bring approximately 12,000 Network Vision sites on air by the end of 2012 and to complete the majority of the roll-out in 2013.

In addition, Sprint launched its first four 4G LTE smartphones: Galaxy Nexus, LG Viper 4G LTE, HTC EVO 4G LTE and Samsung Galaxy S III and announced the upcoming Motorola Photon Q 4G LTE.

With 10MHz of bandwidth for LTE how long do you think you can remain committed to unlimited data?

Sprint is the only US. national wireless carrier to offer truly unlimited data for smartphones while on the Sprint network with no throttling and no overages. We feel that this offer is what our customers are looking for – simplicity, convenience and great value. These plans have been very successful, and we expect to continue to offer them to customers. Sprint has no current plans to offer tiered data pricing for smartphones. In addition, we are the only U.S. national postpaid carrier with an unlimited data plan for the iPhone.

How else do you feel you can differentiate yourselves from the larger players in the market?

Our focus is on our customers and we walk the talk – it is all about customer experience.

For several years now, improving the customer experience has been one of three primary areas of strategic focus for Sprint (the other two being building the brand and generating cash). Our focus on the customer is paying dividends. For instance, since the first quarter of 2008, calls per subscriber to customer care have been reduced by approximately 46 per cent. And we achieved an all-time low level of calls per subscriber to Customer Care in 2Q 2012.

Sprint is number one among all national wireless carriers for customer satisfaction according to results from the 2012 American Customer Satisfaction Index. In addition to ranking first among national wireless carriers, Sprint was also the most improved company in customer satisfaction, across all industries, during the last four years, according to the survey. Also, since the beginning of 2011, Sprint and its prepaid brands Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA have earned nine J.D. Power awards, including awards for customer service satisfaction and purchase experience satisfaction.

Your network is unusual in that you run multiple technologies. What are the timescales for running each one and what kind of challenges does it throw up?

Through Network Vision, Sprint is simplifying its network structure. Network Vision is rolling out LTE and enhanced 3G service nationwide and expects to largely complete it by the end of 2013 — two years sooner than originally scheduled. At the heart of Network Vision are multi-mode base stations consolidating multiple network technologies into one seamless network with the goal of increasing efficiency and enhancing network coverage, call quality and data speeds for customers across the United States.

At the same time, we are decommissioning the iDEN network. We are pleased with our retention of Nextel platform subscribers. In the second quarter of 2012, 60 per cent of customers who left the iDEN network went to the Sprint postpaid platform.

While we continue to deploy CDMA and LTE using the PCS spectrum, we are repurposing the 800MHz spectrum that was being used for iDEN, to support CDMA and LTE. We are also working closely with Clearwire to integrate and support LTE within the 2.5GHz spectrum. We are converging towards support for CDMA and LTE.

There has been successful downward pressure on roaming charges within the EU – is roaming outside of the US an issue for you?

As we look to the future with the increasing availability and coverage with LTE, there are some technical challenges related to LTE roaming. One relates to the number of bands being deployed and the physical limitations that can be supported on a device. The service provider industry will need to work collaboratively to harmonize and consolidate the number of bands defined.

Is there enough innovation occurring in the mobile network industry? Can you provide some examples?

I continue to be surprised at the level and the extent of the creativity in this industry, the many other business models it enables and the value which is unlocked and created.

The challenge with many new innovations with an eye towards future success in the mobile industry is the lack of a sustainable operating business model. Many start-ups look to achieve a quick return on investment through an acquisition and this approach is often inconsistent with our business model where we are looking beyond quick hit deals.

Attend LTE North America 2012 to hear from the leading US carriers including AT&T, MetroPCS, Verizon, US.Cellular, T-Mobile USA and Clearwire. To see the full speaker line up click here. The conference is on the 14-15th November 2012 at the Fairmont Dallas Hotel, Texas. Click here to download the full conference program.

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