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Sprint, the LTE iPhone & 4G Plans

Dan Jones
3/27/2012

5:30 PM -- A Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) executive says that the operator will offer a 4G iPhone if rivals AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless get a Long Term Evolution (LTE) smartphone from Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) this year.

Talking at the Barclays Capital High Yield Bond And Syndicated Loan Conference on Tuesday, Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer said that the operator is "not going to be disadvantaged" if and when it comes to launching an LTE iPhone.

"When you think about our LTE, we're talking about being at 100 [million] to 120 million pops [customers covered] by year-end, which are all the major metropolitan markets," Euteneuer said. "If you make the assumption that they launch a device at a similar time that they did last year, you're basically done with the major markets."

Euteneuer says that the six LTE markets already announced will be followed by more over the year. "The speeds and everything will be totally comparable," Euteneuer says of Sprint's upcoming network versus AT&T and Verizon's 4G networks.

The CFO didn't sound too concerned that consumers would worry about buying 4G devices and moving between LTE and 3G. "It won't matter to them, its going to be about the experience on the phone," he said.

"A lot of what you find with iPhone users is that they love the iconic nature of the device, they love its usability and the fact is, the experience has always been good whether you're on 3G or 4G." This bucks the conventional wisdom that the iPhone will be the device that helps to break LTE in for the U.S. as customers clamor for the 4G smartphone. The recent experience of the launch of the new iPad might bear this out, as many buyers didn't seem to know what 4G was.

Sprint could still try and push the iPhone on its network with unlimited data plans, particularly as users can chomp through data with the faster wireless download capabilities of LTE.

Euteneuer gave no sign that Sprint would drop unlimited plans for smartphones, as it has for tablets and laptops. "We have plenty of runway room to maintain that," he said.

So what's more important to you? Raw speed or data headroom? — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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kaps
kaps
12/5/2012 | 5:37:56 PM
re: Sprint, the LTE iPhone & 4G Plans


People would buy the iPhone 5 or whatever it will be called with or without LTE inside. They've shown they would rather buy a 3G iPhone than any other 4G device currently shipping, so it's less about the LTE and more about what Apple will do in the next rev.

kaps
kaps
12/5/2012 | 5:37:56 PM
re: Sprint, the LTE iPhone & 4G Plans


People would buy the iPhone 5 or whatever it will be called with or without LTE inside. They've shown they would rather buy a 3G iPhone than any other 4G device currently shipping, so it's less about the LTE and more about what Apple will do in the next rev.

krishanguru143
krishanguru143
12/5/2012 | 5:37:56 PM
re: Sprint, the LTE iPhone & 4G Plans


If they are going to clear the 1900MHz band and put their 3G at the former iDen band (806-824MHz), will the phones even be capable of using that band?  The cellular band was 824 - 849MHz, so they are close, but will the current baseband chips actually support it?  If Sprint is using PCS bands for LTE, will that band be supported by the baseband for LTE?  Or has Sprint changed what band they are going to deplay LTE on?


 


Sprint is just being different again and how has that worked for them over the years?

joset01
joset01
12/5/2012 | 5:37:53 PM
re: Sprint, the LTE iPhone & 4G Plans


Its a a thorny one isn't it?


What options do they have though?


I would think that the 800 band would make most sense for LTE but then they have to get some major enterprise users off that band first and the CFO acknowledged that was going to be a tricky  problem.

krishanguru143
krishanguru143
12/5/2012 | 5:37:52 PM
re: Sprint, the LTE iPhone & 4G Plans


If the phone(s) won't work with CDMA at 800MHz, will Apple/Qualcomm and the others produce a chip that will?  What happens with exisitng users?  Sure they could keep some of the 1900MHz for the phones that can't handle 800MHz, I would expect poor service though.  I think it is rather bold to say that if Apple produces an LTE iPhoney that Sprint will be able to use it yet Sprint is using their sprectrum in odd ways.  If Sprint was the size of AT&T and Verizon, they might be able to get what they need, but with their size and financials, Sprint might be putting the nails in the coffin themselves.  Is WiMax going to be a requirement as well or are they kicking that to the curb?  The basebad in the new iPad, Qualcomm removed WiMax support from it.  So even Qualcomm is moving on.  Not good news for Clearwire.

krishanguru143
krishanguru143
12/5/2012 | 5:37:38 PM
re: Sprint, the LTE iPhone & 4G Plans




Ofcom in the U.K. is going to auction off the 800MHz band after the analog TV service is turned off next month.  This 800MHz band goes from 790MHz to 862MHz.  So this clearly covers the 806MHz to 824MHz band that Sprint has.  Surely the operators there are going to use this band for LTE.  It would have made more sense for Sprint to use the 806MHz to 824MHz for LTE rather than the 1900MHz.  Sprint would have had easier access to equipment and a better selection of phones since equipment designed for one could be used on the other.  They also wouldn’t have to move their 3G at all.  I just view a lot of devices won’t work or the service will be shoddy due to very little if any 3G service at 1900MHz.  I guess time will tell if Sprint made the right call or not.




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