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4G/3G/WiFi

MWC 2011: Sprint Plotting LTE in 2012 or 2013?

BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress 2011 -- Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) still says that it is a case of "if" rather then "when" it might make a move to Long Term Evolution (LTE) for its 4G service, but it clearly has several options on the table when it comes to next-gen mobile broadband.

Sprint SVP of Networks Bob Azzi said Tuesday that the "Network Vision" program gives the operator options when it comes to LTE. He said that Sprint is expecting to decide for sure within the next "five or six months." (See Sprint Picks Companies for Network Vision and Sprint Ready to Leapfrog to Multi-Mode.)

This would likely push out any actual launch of the technology to 2012 or maybe even 2013, the network maven said during a round table and video interview with LRTV.

Here's the deck that Sprint is playing with:

  • Investing more in Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) and using the same 2.5GHz it uses for WiMax to also deploy LTE. Clearwire has already been testing single-channel TDD and dual-channel FDD spectrum itself so we know that a strategy that gradually migrates from WiMax to LTE is possible.

  • Deploying CDMA 1x Advanced and LTE in its 1,900MHz spectrum for nationwide mobile broadband.

  • Deploying an LTE-based data service along with a single CDMA voice carrier as it moves Nextel fans onto CDMA-based push-to-talk.

In the future, a mix of all these options should be possible with its multi-modal "Network Vision" base stations. In the near term, however, Sprint will likely pick one track so that handset vendors have a clear notion of what radio frequencies they need to work with for Sprint.

All three of options are likely to be expensive and take some time. Vendors that LR Mobile has spoken to at the show, however, suggest that re-upping its investment in Clearwire would be "the path of least resistance" for Sprint right now.

LTE shares about 70 percent of its DNA with WiMax right now. So it would be relatively easy for Sprint's Network Vision partner to convert its Epic 4G device so that a future version runs both WiMax and LTE.

If this is the route that Sprint plans to take, however, the carrier certainly isn't saying yet. We may learn a little more when Clearwire reports its numbers on Thursday evening in the U.S.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:12:42 PM
re: MWC 2011: Sprint Plotting LTE in 2012 or 2013?

I think they're being a lil bit mealy-mouthed about this. Everything in the Network Vision/Project Leapfrog spec suggests a move to LTE sooner rather than later to me.


 


And I *think* that 800MHz refarming only gives them a small channel (5MHz?) for LTE, which ain't no good unless used as a supplemental service.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 5:12:41 PM
re: MWC 2011: Sprint Plotting LTE in 2012 or 2013?

Sprint's Azzi has been busy... he was recently at a "WiMAX-LTE" convergence gathering for analysts in Silicon Valley where Beceem/Broadcom showed plans for hybrid WiMAX/LTE chipsets... given how many radios are going in these devices nowadays (AT&T's 4G phones will have various flavors of GSM, HSPA+ and LTE, plus Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS) how hard would it be to build one with LTE and WiMAX?

kaps 12/5/2012 | 5:12:41 PM
re: MWC 2011: Sprint Plotting LTE in 2012 or 2013?

Sprint's Azzi has been busy... he was recently at a "WiMAX-LTE" convergence gathering for analysts in Silicon Valley where Beceem/Broadcom showed plans for hybrid WiMAX/LTE chipsets... given how many radios are going in these devices nowadays (AT&T's 4G phones will have various flavors of GSM, HSPA+ and LTE, plus Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS) how hard would it be to build one with LTE and WiMAX?

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:12:39 PM
re: MWC 2011: Sprint Plotting LTE in 2012 or 2013?

Yeah, Sequans has a similar converged chipset here in Barca. Converged devices seem entirely possible, particularly as they already have WiMax customers to support.

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