Sprint's LTE Position

2:15 PM -- AMSTERDAM -- LTE World Summit -- Sprint revealed at the Long Term Evolution (LTE) event here in Amsterdam that it is evaluating equipment suppliers for a major technology evolution of its CDMA network in the US and indicated that it was open to LTE. (See Sprint RFP May Include LTE .)

But Sprint has not specified exactly which technology it will evolve to.

To find out more about the operator's next-gen wireless plan, Light Reading Mobile tracked down Mathew Oommen, Sprint's VP of device and technology development, and one of the LTE event's volcanic ash victims whose flight could not make it here to Amsterdam. Oommen was scheduled to keynote this morning's LTE sessions. (See LTE Action in Amsterdam .)

Oommen did not spell out Sprint's next-gen mobile technology choice [ed. note: as in, L-T-E, for example] but said it would be a "multi-technology platform that will maintain the lowest cost per bit."

"We want to future proof our network," he said. "We want to leverage all the assets we have in such a way that offers us the lowest cost per bit... It's important to address the cost per bit in a data explosion market."

He added that it's important to "not be prescriptive to a particular technology."

So, Sprint's priorities in this next-gen wireless selection are getting the best cost structure for its network and the most flexibility for its customers.

As for which technology actually meets those requirements, well, Sprint isn't saying.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

hgmyung 12/5/2012 | 4:35:42 PM
re: Sprint's LTE Position

I strongly doubt Sprint will choose 802.16m WiMAX (the other choice for 4G) for migration of their FDD CDMA2000 network. Other major CDMA2000 operators (notably, VZW, KDDI, & all South Korean operators) are migrating to LTE for sure and it would be a huge gamble for Sprint not to follow this trend because of the vast eco-system that LTE will create in mobile terminal & infrastructure markets. Sprint may delay 4G migration & evolve EV-DO network further but eventually, it would have no other choice but to hop on the LTE bandwagon.

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 4:35:37 PM
re: Sprint's LTE Position

Sprint's not saying definitively that it will deploy LTE, but realistically what else would its cellular upgrade be?

As you say, perhaps a 3G evolution now with an eye toward LTE in the future could be the way for Sprint.

As for 802.16m, besides Samsung, what other vendors are committed to 802.16m?

hgmyung 12/5/2012 | 4:35:36 PM
re: Sprint's LTE Position

WiMAX Forum recently launched WiMAX 2 Collaboration Initiative (WCI) program to throw support behind 802.16m (see Industry Leaders Announce Initiative to Accelerate Interoperable WiMAX 2 Solutions built upon IEEE 802.16m) and I also see Motorola & ZTE among the participants of this program other than Samsung. But I doubt this program will gain any traction and get support from other major vendors, especially on the infrastructure side, since there is almost no support from the operators especially in FDD spectrum at this point.

I think all Tier-I markets will converge to LTE (quite possibly TDD side also) and it is just a matter of timing. Some will go through elongated 3G (HSPA+ & EV-DO rev. B) route and some will skip further 3G evolution and jump right into LTE. On the other hand, I'm not saying that WiMAX will be extinct but rather it will find opportunities in niche markets such as wireline-substitute or backhaul-type services.

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