Sprint Sparks It in Chicago

Sprint says that its network updates are now "largely complete" in Chicagoland, and users should be able to get multi-megabit 4G speeds if they have compatible devices.

Sprint revealed its plans for a faster LTE service -- called "Spark" -- that layers the operator's 1900 MHz, 800 MHz, and 2.5 GHz LTE frequencies to provide maximum download speeds of 50 to 60 Mbit/s Tuesday. The initial compatible tri-band devices are the HTC One Max, LG G2, Samsung S4 Mini, and Galaxy Mega. (See Sprint Sparks Up Vendors for Faster 4G LTE and Sprint Commits to Tri-Band, HD Voice Phones.)

Sprint's largest LTE footprint is the 1900 MHz band. It has been using Clearwire's 2.5 GHz LTE network for the faster data transfers. The operator said in October that it is just starting to layer in 800 MHz for better in-building coverage.

In addition to Chicago, Sprint is promising "limited availability" for the blended network service in New York, Los Angeles, Tampa, and Miami. The Spark network -- or at least 2.5 GHz service from Sprint -- is expected to reach 100 million Americans by the end of 2014.

Why this matters
Spectrum layering and channel aggregation will be the story of 2014 and 2015 -- and maybe beyond -- for US carriers racing to add coverage and speed to young LTE networks. Verizon Wireless has taken an early lead with 2x20 MHz LTE in the US, but T-Mobile US Inc. is now following with its own fatter pipes. As ever, access to spectrum will determine what each operator can do with wider channels for LTE.

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— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

Sarah Thomas 12/10/2013 | 4:35:03 PM
Samsung Galaxy S4 Btw, good news if you are a Sprint customer in Chicago in need of an upgrade. It announced the Samsung Galaxy S4 today, tweaked for the Spark tri-band network. Bad news if you already have one -- it won't be upgradable. 
Sarah Thomas 12/10/2013 | 4:30:04 PM
Re: Hesse chat Yeah, Hesse said that's what customers have noticed the most -- the improved voice quality. He also said half of its customers would have HD voice capable handsets by mid-2014 and that they'd be able to interoperate. That's important, because of now, it only works if you're calling from an Ericsson to Ericsson base station or ALU to ALU, etc.
DanJones 12/10/2013 | 3:01:17 PM
Re: Hesse chat Hmmmm, people are really going to want the 800MHz layered in there for making calls indoors.
Sarah Thomas 12/10/2013 | 2:42:16 PM
Hesse chat Listening to Sprint CEO Dan Hesse speak at the UBS conference now. He says it'll have 150 million POPs up to 2.5 by the end of 2014. 
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