Sprint RFP May Include LTE
"There's nothing that prevents us from... moving to LTE," said Kevin Packingham, senior VP of product and technology development at Sprint, speaking at the LTE event here. "We're doing a technology evaluation and making a decision on our core network and how we want to evolve that going forward."
By "core" network, he meant Sprint's CDMA network, which Packingham clarified with Light Reading Mobile on the sidelines of the event. The technology evaluation, which Packingham described as a "next generation network RFP," is for the CDMA networks Sprint operates in 800MHz and 1900MHz spectrum.
Packingham's comments could be the clearest signal to date from the third-largest US mobile operator that it may migrate from CDMA to LTE. Of course, no decision has been made, but Sprint is definitely open to it. (See CTIA 2010: Hesse – LTE Will Be Bigger But We Are First.)
This new technology evaluation does not mean Sprint is ready to wave goodbye to WiMax any time soon. "We don't see WiMax and LTE as being mutually exclusive," he said.
Packingham would not reveal which vendors were invited to participate in the RFP, noting only that, "Everyone who could respond was invited."
Vendor candidates for this RFP would include Sprint's current CDMA suppliers, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT). Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) are possibilities as well.
If Sprint makes the leap to LTE, the move would follow Verizon Wireless and MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS) down a well-trod technology path from CDMA to LTE. (See MetroPCS Chooses LTE for 4G Wireless Network and Verizon Goes LTE.)
The revelation of Sprint's interest in LTE follows reports that Sprint may be considering a 3G network upgrade to EV-DO Rev. B.
Packingham would not specify a timeframe for when Sprint might make a leap to LTE. He suggested, however, that such a decision would be informed by customer reaction to the EVO 4G WiMax smartphone, which will be released on June 4, as well as an understanding of what work needs to be done at standards bodies to make a technology shift possible in its frequency bands.
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile