Deployment of Sprint’s Network Vision has begun in the U.S. Network Vision is a wireless network infrastructure that allows Sprint to run multiple network technologies/protocols and host multiple spectrum bands at the same set of base stations/cell sites. As it’s deployed, Sprint is installing LTE-FDD as well as upgrading its 3G/CDMA wireless network, while phasing out the narrowband iDEN network originally developed by Nextel. Sprint had said it expected the Network Vision deployment to reach 12,000 cell sites this year.
On its 3rd Quarter 2012 earnings call last Thursday, Sprint blamed its equipment vendors for a delay of about three months for its network upgrade plans, but said that it would not affect overall spending on the $7 billion Network Vision project. The company said the delay related to logistics, execution and materials but did not single out a specific vendor from its three main suppliers: Ericsson, Alcatel Lucent SA and Samsung Electronics Co.
From Sprint’s Kristin Wallace:
“Sprint’s Network Vision initiative continues to gain momentum. The number of sites that are either ready for construction or already underway has more than doubled in the last three months to more than 13,500. Leasing and zoning have been completed on more than 20,000 sites. To date nearly 4,300 sites are on-air and meeting speed and coverage enhancement targets. Recent weekly construction starts are up over 250 percent from the second quarter. Sprint now expects to bring 12,000 sites on air approximately one quarter later than originally planned.
· On July 15, 2012, Sprint launched 4G LTE in 15 cities surrounding the Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, San Antonio and Waco markets.
· Sprint 4G LTE is available in 32 cities and expects to have largely completed the nationwide build-out by end of 2013.
· On Sept. 10, Sprint announced that 4G LTE will be available in the coming months in over 100 additional markets. These include: Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Memphis, Tenn.; Miami; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; New York; Philadelphia; and Washington, D.C.
Sprint expects to have nationwide LTE coverage by the end of 2013.”
Unlike other wireless carriers, Sprint has to deal with four separate and disparate networks: the soon to be shut down Nextel IDEN push-to-talk, Sprint’s legacy CDMA/3G-EVDO, Network Vision (CDMA/3G-EVDO, LTE-FDD)+, and Cleawire’s Mobile WiMAX/ LTE-TDD). Looks like the last three of these networks will survive- at least for a couple of years. Sprint’s legacy network will certainly co-exist with Network Vision, until the latter covers all Sprint customers. Sprint will continue to resell Clearwire’s mobile WiMAX- at least till the end of 2013. But it remains to be seen whether Sprint will resell Clearwire’s LTE-TDD network, which is now being developed for global deployments by resellers.
Will these two versions of LTE (differing in only the duplexing method) inter-operate/ inter-work with each other to permit video calls and other types of real time (very low latency) communications between users of each LTE network? See Appendix below for more on this topic.
More information, comment and analysis on Sprint’s 2012 Open Solutions conference, including CEO Dan Hesse’s keynote speech is at:
Appendix: Conundrum for Sprint – Reselling Clearwire’s LTE-TDD
Clearwire Releases Research Reports from IDC and ABI Highlighting Spectrum Holdings and TDD-LTE Ecosystem
Clearwire to start major TDD-LTE network construction in Q4 – FierceWireless
“Clearwire intends to deploy TDD-LTE at 5,000 cell sites by June 30, 2013, in areas of high network traffic and congestion, since Clearwire will charge Sprint usage-based pricing for access to its LTE network”
The number of CLRWR TDD-LTE cell sites deployed by mid 20013 was recently reduced to 2,000 as per this article:
There are 2 issues for Sprint if they resell CLRWR’s TDD-LTE:
2. Latency & jitter bounds (=max permitted values) when interworking real time calls between the 2 different LTE networks. Will be especially important for video conferencing and other real time applications.
Note also that voice can’t go on CDMA unless CLRWR is reselling Sprint’s CDMA network too.