& cplSiteName &

Sprint, Clearwire Fire Up 4G in LA

Michelle Donegan
LR Mobile News Analysis
Michelle Donegan
11/29/2010

Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) today flipped the switch on mobile WiMax services in Los Angeles -- two days ahead of schedule -- and launched in five other markets, which will be seen as the latest shots fired in the US FauxG mobile broadband battle.

WiMax services from the two operators are now available in L.A. and Miami, as well as Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus, Ohio. Additionally, Sprint launched its 4G service in Washington, D.C.

Clearwire and Sprint also announced that the launch date for San Francisco will be December 28, which is on schedule according to the operators' plans for commercial services in "late December." (See Clearwire Sets Big City 4G Launch Dates .)

Why this matters
The FauxG battle in the US is well and truly underway as Verizon Wireless is about to launch its much-anticipated Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in 38 markets next month; MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS) has already started offering LTE services in some markets; and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and T-Mobile US Inc. rev their 3G networks to up-to-21Mbit/s speeds. So, coverage will be important in these early days of next-gen mobile broadband access in the US. (See Verizon Confirms December LTE Launch , MetroPCS Beats Verizon to LTE in Sin City, and AT&T Confirms Move to 21Mbit/s HSPA+.)

Sprint, which uses the mobile WiMax network that Clearwire is building, says its 4G service is now available in 68 US markets. Clearwire notes that those 68 markets represent coverage of 103 million people in the country.

Here's Sprint's explanation for why it claims to have the only "true 4G" network in the US:



For more
For more on next-gen mobile broadband in the US and the battle of FauxG, please see these stories:



— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

(9)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
paolo.franzoi
paolo.franzoi
12/5/2012 | 4:17:25 PM
re: Sprint, Clearwire Fire Up 4G in LA


 


Mark,


Is your comment about cost (and I am just trying to discover the root of your concern) about:


- the additional cost of the cell sites?


- the additional cost of the spectrum?


- the additional cost of the backhaul?


- a combination of above?


seven


 

spc_markl
spc_markl
12/5/2012 | 4:17:25 PM
re: Sprint, Clearwire Fire Up 4G in LA


Michelle,


"Sprint allocates an average of four times more spectrum with 4G than any other carrier." What it does not talk about is from a footprint perspective -- how many more times will its infrastructure cost compared with Verizon and AT&T with 4G.


Mark

spc_markl
spc_markl
12/5/2012 | 4:17:24 PM
re: Sprint, Clearwire Fire Up 4G in LA


seven,


In operating at 2.5GHz, Sprint needs many more cell towers, cell sites, etc. than its two other competitors, which are running at a much lower frequency.  Of course, Sprint's biggest cost disadvantage in general, compared with Verizon and AT&T, is its lack of last-mile assets for backhaul.


Mark

kaps
kaps
12/5/2012 | 4:17:23 PM
re: Sprint, Clearwire Fire Up 4G in LA


In theory, you might need fewer towers since 700 MHz has better propagation. But in practice -- which we haven't seen yet -- you might need more than you think simply because 700 MHz is so "good" that the towers interfere with each other. Would love to see any real-world stats that show a 700 MHz implementation generating lots of cost savings simply via the spectrum characteristics. Verizon and AT&T won't divulge information about number of towers, placement or how much each tower site costs so not sure where you are coming up with your "cost advantage" conclusions.


And with less spectrum depth AT&T and Verizon will likely have to build more towers to handle equal capacity, since the towers will need to be spaced further apart. So, even less of an advantage.


Aside from backhaul -- and it's not clear how big that advantage is in the last mile (conceding the fiber portion) since AT&T was clearly (by its own admission) lax in upgrading towers, a task it is undertaking now with billions more capex the last couple years. Maybe Verizon is better prepared but I would bet that both big operators are far outspending Sprint and Clearwire's 4G build by the billions. Which, of course, they have to spend.


 

kaps
kaps
12/5/2012 | 4:17:23 PM
re: Sprint, Clearwire Fire Up 4G in LA


In theory, you might need fewer towers since 700 MHz has better propagation. But in practice -- which we haven't seen yet -- you might need more than you think simply because 700 MHz is so "good" that the towers interfere with each other. Would love to see any real-world stats that show a 700 MHz implementation generating lots of cost savings simply via the spectrum characteristics. Verizon and AT&T won't divulge information about number of towers, placement or how much each tower site costs so not sure where you are coming up with your "cost advantage" conclusions.


And with less spectrum depth AT&T and Verizon will likely have to build more towers to handle equal capacity, since the towers will need to be spaced further apart. So, even less of an advantage.


Aside from backhaul -- and it's not clear how big that advantage is in the last mile (conceding the fiber portion) since AT&T was clearly (by its own admission) lax in upgrading towers, a task it is undertaking now with billions more capex the last couple years. Maybe Verizon is better prepared but I would bet that both big operators are far outspending Sprint and Clearwire's 4G build by the billions. Which, of course, they have to spend.


 

spc_markl
spc_markl
12/5/2012 | 4:17:23 PM
re: Sprint, Clearwire Fire Up 4G in LA


I guarantee you that Verizon and AT&T would not even think for a second about trading their 700 MHz for 2.5 GHz.  It is more than theory -- it is about physics. 


Historically, Verizon has had a cost advantage in operating at a lower frequency than Sprint. 


I am aware that 700 MHz may be too "good" for voice, but not for data and video, which is really what 4G is mainly all about anyway.  And I am really not sure that additional towers would be required to fix the voice problem.


While I do not have any stats to provide you, I am in the real world.  I do not depend solely on what is publicly available. I have had contacts at Sprint over the years that have admitted to me that the carrier is at a severe disadvantage with 2.5 GHz (putting aside any other technological limitation with range with WiMAX).  It is going to take two to three times as many towers just to make it comparable with its CDMA network.


In terms of your argument about needing more towers later, as with fiber optics, it is always about first cost.  The assertion that one should pay more for a whole load of capacity upfront led to the collapse of the telecom industry.


The backhaul advantage is not even debatable -- Sprint has by far the worst backhaul cost problem in the US -- and AT&T is lax on everything these days.


Mark


 

kaps
kaps
12/5/2012 | 4:17:22 PM
re: Sprint, Clearwire Fire Up 4G in LA


So based on some shadowy "sources" who expressed some concern you conclude that Sprint's network will cost more than AT&T's or Verizon. How is that sound analysis?


I still don't see any figures that answer my questions (especially about how the depth of available spectrum affects this comparison) or prove your assertions beyond just guessing. Actual research that I have done at Sidecut Reports quotes people like Clearwire CTO John Saw with actual figures about how their network tower sites are per site far cheaper than older cell technologies. So maybe more tower sites won't cost as much as they used to.


Maybe your Sprint "sources" could be quoted with real figures so we could have a real debate? Otherwise it is just a lot of theoretical hot air.

kaps
kaps
12/5/2012 | 4:17:22 PM
re: Sprint, Clearwire Fire Up 4G in LA


So based on some shadowy "sources" who expressed some concern you conclude that Sprint's network will cost more than AT&T's or Verizon. How is that sound analysis?


I still don't see any figures that answer my questions (especially about how the depth of available spectrum affects this comparison) or prove your assertions beyond just guessing. Actual research that I have done at Sidecut Reports quotes people like Clearwire CTO John Saw with actual figures about how their network tower sites are per site far cheaper than older cell technologies. So maybe more tower sites won't cost as much as they used to.


Maybe your Sprint "sources" could be quoted with real figures so we could have a real debate? Otherwise it is just a lot of theoretical hot air.

spc_markl
spc_markl
12/5/2012 | 4:17:21 PM
re: Sprint, Clearwire Fire Up 4G in LA


I have a track record with my Sprint contacts that goes back about 25 years.  You can use the word, "shadowy," but it just reflects a lack of wilingness on your part to engage in primary research gathering.  By your logic, we should not read any of Bob Woodward's books because they are not on the record.


If we just debated what vendors were willing to give out that is sometimes incorrect, this would be a pretty bland web site.  People are constantly giving their own personal views on this site based on their experience and knowledge of the industry.


I am also not an apologist for Clearwire -- and not an apologist for any company.  I do not always get it right -- nobody can.  But I stick to my statements below (some of which it appears you concede).  And if you can prove that I am truly wrong, then I want to know about it yesterday.  My credibility is all I have in this business.


Mark Lutkowitz, Principal, Telecom Pragmatics

kaps
kaps
12/5/2012 | 4:17:19 PM
re: Sprint, Clearwire Fire Up 4G in LA


Mark, I just have a basic problem with your very argument here -- that the Sprint/Clearwire infrastructure is more costly to deploy than Verizon's LTE implementation. The facts on the ground seem to suggest that the opposite may be true -- and that the Clearwire/Sprint spectrum depth is a key part in the lower costs.


The simple math says if you have 4x the spectrum (Clearwire/Sprint) then when the network loads up you can just deploy more antennas at the same tower location, at slightly different frequencies within your spectral asset. Verizon (and AT&T) will not be able to do that with their limited footprint at 700 MHz -- they will have to split cells to increase capacity once their initial deployment is saturated, according to all the sources I have interviewed, on the record. Right there it seems like any "savings" from having better spectrum (fewer initial towers?) are eliminated by not having the same amount of spectrum depth -- meaning more towers later.


And as I said I am not sure that I buy the "beachfront" designation for 700 MHz. When somebody (Verizon, AT&T) goes on the record to say exactly how much better it is than 2.5 GHz when it comes to tower deployments in real-world deployments, then I will listen. Right now it's just opinion, which is useful if it comes from trusted or proven sources (and I would say that Bob Woodward has probably proven his ability to report; no problem shooting high in comparing your work to his). Just haven't seen anything to trust yet in terms of numbers like users per tower, towers per mile, etc., probably because nobody has built a network like this at this frequency yet. Which again makes me wonder how anyone can call it a cheaper method when it hasn't yet been proven to be so.


Do Verizon and AT&T have better core networks than Sprint/Clearwire? Undoubtedly -- but how much of that is part of the total-costs equation? My repeated question is, how do you arrive at your conclusion that the Sprint/Clearwire deployment will cost "many more times" what it will cost AT&T and Verizon to deploy LTE at 700 MHz -- when the simple spectrum math seems to point in the opposite direction.


And -- don't forget the $9.6 billion Verizon paid for its C Block spectrum and the nearly equal amount AT&T paid for its spectrum. Total costs.

Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Featured Video
Upcoming Live Events
October 22, 2019, Los Angeles, CA
November 5, 2019, London, England
November 7, 2019, London, UK
November 14, 2019, Maritim Hotel, Berlin
December 3-5, 2019, Vienna, Austria
December 3, 2019, New York, New York
March 16-18, 2020, Embassy Suites, Denver, Colorado
May 18-20, 2020, Irving Convention Center, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events