Sprint on 4G: Heavy Data Users Wanted
Sprint's president of 4G, Matt Carter, was in New York City Thursday to preview Sprint's upcoming 4G service in the Big Apple. During a lively press conference, he said there will be key differences between Sprint and its rivals even after they launch their own next-generation services.
"We love heavy users; our competitors do not," Carter quipped.
The next-gen boss feels that unlimited data will be one of the things that make the Sprint service "better, different, and special," compared to operators like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless . AT&T has already moved to data caps on its 3G plans, and Verizon has hinted that it is considering a move to tiered pricing as it heads to Long Term Evolution. (See Verizon's LTE: How Much More $$ Than 3G? and Clearwire's Pricing Window Is Wide Open.)
That doesn't mean that Sprint isn't charging a premium for new services. The company has slapped an extra $10 a month charge for 4G onto users of its Evo, Epic 3G, and WiMax smartphones.
"They consume a tremendous amount of network capacity," says Iyad Tarazi, Sprint's vice president of network development and engineering. He noted that -- although 3G network data traffic is also growing -- some WiMax sites are backhauling up to 30 times the data that 3G sites are.
The Evo users are also the reason Sprint may not exactly track its WiMax network partner, Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR), into a New York launch. Clearwire has already started sending out fliers advertising its end of the WiMax service in NYC. Sprint wants to ensure that its WiMax smartphone users can get a consistent service before it says that NYC is ready. (See Clearwire 'Finally in New York City'.)
For Tarazi, consistent means promising average downloads of 3 to 6 Mbit/s with more in bursts. This has meant canny placement of cell sites in the "urban canyons" of NYC.
"New York is an RF engineer's dream," he jokes.
Nonetheless, Tarazi is now confident that he can largely promise these speeds as WiMax launches across the five boroughs by the end of the year. "If you happen to be in a closet in your basement, you may not get that," he notes. [Ed. note: And what you do in your free time is none of our business anyway.] — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile