Sprint's LTE Advance Is a Move to Keep Up

3:30 PM -- Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s plans to move to LTE-Advanced in 2013 seem to give it a future edge on some other rivals in the 4G game but may -- in the end -- just prove to be running to keep up with ever-increasing data speeds.

Sprint said Tuesday morning that it plans to start upgrading its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network to the next-generation specification in the first half of 2013. The CDMA operator has said that it will start deploying LTE in its first markets in 2012 on its 1900MHz PCS G-Band spectrum.

Sprint is the first U.S. carrier to officially announce an LTE-Advanced deployment plan. Verizon Wireless has said that it will work on LTE-Advanced standards and plans to move to the technology over the long term. Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) has described its current trials as LTE-Advanced "ready."

So, in theory, the move to LTE-Advanced could give Sprint a significant advantage over rivals. The specification is supposed to give data downloads of up to 100 Mbit/s if a user is on the move. [Ed note: Yeah right, maybe, if you're standing next to the tower somewhere in the least populated part of Montana.] In practice, however, Sprint has two smaller 5MHz channels in its PCS band to deploy LTE in, at least until it can get its hands on LightSquared spectrum. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless have paired 10MHz channels in the 700MHz band to deploy LTE in.

Bigger channels equals faster 4G, all else being equal.

If Sprint is planning to launch LTE-Advanced in 2013 it will likely start with its initial 5X5 channels. So, in fact, the improved processing and wider antenna array of LTE-Advanced may not buy it a significant advance over rival LTE deployments.

This could eventually change as Sprint re-farms its 800MHz spectrum and adds LightSquared L-Band and Clearwire capacity to the mix. In the early stages, however, it seems to me that Sprint may be trying to use advanced technology to eke as much out of the limited spectrum at its disposal at it can, while rivals have more bandwidth to play with.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

billsblots 12/5/2012 | 4:50:28 PM
re: Sprint's LTE Advance Is a Move to Keep Up

My initial reaction must be similar to Bill Gates' alleged, "No one will ever need more than 64K memory".  Huge radio frequency bandwidths are necessary to get this much data bandwidth, at least with what we know early in the 21st century. 

I recently purchased a Droid Bionic as VZW has gone on the air with 4G here in Virginia more than a year ahead of schedule, although they have not made any official announcement.  With APP updates and a few of my own downloaded, a little test streaming of video ( which was really great for watching hockey on its brilliant screen in the Orlando airport at a bar across from my terminal) I hit half of my month allotment of 2GB in just over 1 week.

How much data would one consume streaming with greater speeds/bandwidths?  You can watch a good video right now, with even greater bandwidths would you use a different technology, greater bit rates, for an imperceptible increase in resolution that greatly exceeded current data consumption?  2 GB could be consumed in one day without too much trouble.

Our entire understanding and perceptions of limits would go flying out the window.

I would bet to 90% of the consumers the terms Mbps and Mhz and GHz would just make their eyes cross, they are only concerned with the visible product on the phones.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:50:27 PM
re: Sprint's LTE Advance Is a Move to Keep Up

I think we might be very close to enough right. Say:

- 1GHz or so fast processor

- 1GB memory

- 4-5 Mbit/s down

Your smartphone can do an awful lot with those parameters. You can stream, music, movies and multi-task happily with that kind of power. It might get to the point that people stop caring about so much about xG at that point.

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