Light Reading

Sprint's LTE TDD Future to Boost Current Vendors

Sarah Thomas
7/12/2013
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Now that Sprint Nextel Corp.'s mergers with Clearwire LLC and Softbank Corp. are complete, the carrier's Network Vision could soon take on a fresh 4G flavor with LTE TDD.

Sprint bought the rest of Clearwire that it didn't already own primarily to get its hands on its valuable spectrum holdings. Those holdings were in 2.6GHz bands used for WiMax now but suitable for deploying Long Term Evolution Time Division Duplex (LTE TDD). This is a technology -- also known as TD-LTE -- that no other operator in the U.S. uses, but one that is accelerating rapidly across the globe. (See Defining 4G: What the Heck is LTE TDD?)

Sprint hasn't said when it will deploy the next-generation network, but Ovum analyst Daryl Schoolar says it could be as soon as the fourth quarter of this year.

If so, this will be positive news for its vendor partners, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson AB and Samsung Corp.. Both Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent have experience with the burgeoning tech through its biggest proponent, China Mobile Ltd., and Samsung was an established Clearwire base station vendor. There's little chance Sprint will look elsewhere to build out LTE TDD.

"I would think with Sprint trying to consolidate everything, it would most likely want to have the same FDD LTE and TDD LTE vendors in the market," Schoolar says. "They'll want to follow the path and keep the same vendors in the same regions."

For Alcatel-Lucent, especially, it may be a game of catch-up for a while. Its LTE TDD footprint pales in comparison to Samsung and Ericsson. Schoolar notes it is difficult to determine whether Alcatel-Lucent is behind on the technology itself or if it just hasn't pursued the market as aggressively given its recent corporate restructuring. For its part, an Alcatel-Lucent spokesman says the vendor has several LTE TDD trials and customers.

Even if Sprint does move to LTE TDD in the fourth quarter, the wait on devices for the network will be a longer -- at least until next year. The Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) says there are already more than 200 LTE TDD devices on the market, but Sprint's network will no doubt precede their entry into the U.S.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
8/28/2013 | 12:26:17 AM
re: Sprint's LTE TDD Future to Boost Current Vendors
I'll ask them to be sure.
LynneO
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LynneO,
User Rank: Light Beer
8/27/2013 | 9:38:22 PM
re: Sprint's LTE TDD Future to Boost Current Vendors
Yeah, since FDD is currently the standard, if a spec sheet just says "LTE" it generally means it's FDD. Usually spec sheets clarify which type of LTE the device can use and specifically state "TD-LTE" if it can handle TDD. Also, since there are no currently licensed TDD bands that use 800MHz, that device is probably running FDD. The only thing I can think of is that this device will do dual FDD/TDD, allowing it to utilize all three of the specified bands. They will probably update the spec sheet once everything goes commercial. 
DollarsnSense
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DollarsnSense,
User Rank: Light Beer
8/2/2013 | 7:07:39 PM
re: Sprint's LTE TDD Future to Boost Current Vendors
I don't see anything at the link that you provided that even mentions FDD so I'm not sure how you came to that conclusion. All of the devices do indeed support TD-LTE on Sprint's 2.5GHz spectrum. They support Band 41 which is a TDD band, not an FDD band.
Lynne
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Lynne,
User Rank: Light Beer
8/2/2013 | 6:18:22 PM
re: Sprint's LTE TDD Future to Boost Current Vendors
Those devices appear to do FDD only. Maybe I'm misreading something? http://www.netgear.com/images/...
Robbie Rob
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Robbie Rob,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/24/2013 | 5:07:12 PM
re: Sprint's LTE TDD Future to Boost Current Vendors
Ohio Added 3 new LTE towers in the last 2 days..

There now these LTE towers up:

3 In Cinncy, 2 in Columbus, 2 in Cleveland..

Yes 7 towers seems like no big deal, but 3 weeks ago there was none.. I'm figuring Ohio will be heavy LTE in 3 months if not announced as LTE pre-launch

Many have been upgraded NV 3G/800 and are only awaiting fiber backhaul to turn on LTE
DollarsnSense
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DollarsnSense,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/24/2013 | 2:45:54 AM
re: Sprint's LTE TDD Future to Boost Current Vendors
Also, as expected, the first tri-band smartphone from LG has passed through the FCC: http://www.phonescoop.com/arti...
Robbie Rob
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Robbie Rob,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/23/2013 | 5:49:10 PM
re: Sprint's LTE TDD Future to Boost Current Vendors
A lot of people saw Wi-max as inferior later...but WI-max never lived up to its potential. In korea wi-max speeds averaged around 20's Mb/s.. but that was Clearwire's fault as Sprint was at their mercy. After the acquisition of Clearwire - with more than 100 MHz of spectrum, Sprint can build the biggest, baddest mobile broadband network in the industry; the only thing that held them back in the past was the depth of their pocketbooks. Softbanks investment of $Billions is going to change the game. Sprint's LTE coverage should be very close to the big two duopoloy in another year or two.. Right now they have the money with only TIME itself holding them back for now.. Sprint has 110 LTE cities now.. I'm predicting they'll be near 200 markets by early 2014 ( 6 months )..
DanJonesLRMobile
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DanJonesLRMobile,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/23/2013 | 5:35:43 PM
re: Sprint's LTE TDD Future to Boost Current Vendors
Perfect sense, thank you, I remember Sprint had backhaul bottlenecks back when they were installing WiMAX too...
Robbie Rob
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Robbie Rob,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/23/2013 | 5:33:01 PM
re: Sprint's LTE TDD Future to Boost Current Vendors
I said Samsung because they are supplying most of the equipment. Alcatel-Lucent ,Ericsson, and Samsung are the main vendors for Sprint's Network Vision network modernization plan, with each having responsibility for a geographical area.. Samsung is covering roughly 45% of the country( USA) , while the other two vendors are pretty much splitting the remainder..

I said Motorola (equipment) above was being replaced because I live in Columbus ( which I hear might be like Chicago ).. Chicago was upgraded early on and they found out as they upgraded areas with Samsung and turned them on that they were NOT compatible with the old Motorola base towers. So what happened ( besides a major learning experience ! ) was people who were traveling and talking on call might have been on a Motorola tower.. and when they got to a Samsung tower instead of switching towers the call instead dropped.. Sprint has now figured out in cities with Motorola equipment they need to upgrade as many towers as possible at once and turn on the city in clusters...

...On a nationwide scale depending on where you live they are ripping mostly out older Alcatel or Motorola equipment, but either way the Sprint NV upgrade involves ENTIRELY removing old base stations, panels, dishes, etc.. and replacing it with ENTIRELY new equipment. This is why when the NV upgrade is complete Sprint will be looking good. This is also why Sprint seems to be taking more time on upgrading then the other carriers. Right now Sprint customers ( the ones hanging in there ) in places where they are doing upgrades are experiencing bad service because towers are being turned off - while other ones might pick up the load - I find myself roaming on voice calls more and dropping much more then usual.. I believe and hear the main plan for Sprint in most areas is to turn finish NV 3g and turn on 800mhz NV which will drastically improve call quality ( as well as dropped calls ).. and those same sites will all get LTE.. but LTE CAN'T be turned on until fiber backhaul is hooked up.. Some NV sites are still using old backhaul which means data speeds are not yet up to full steam..
Hope this all makes sense..
DanJonesLRMobile
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DanJonesLRMobile,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/23/2013 | 5:09:19 PM
re: Sprint's LTE TDD Future to Boost Current Vendors
Yep, its interesting how much more competitive the US scene has suddenly become again, at least for the top 4 operators.

Robbie, on a point of clarity?

Are you saying that Sprint is replacing old Samsung equipment with new Samsung equipment or replacing ALU and Ericsson gear with Samsung equipment?

Jus' wondering.

DJ
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