Sprint's Move to Advance Its Network Vision

CHICAGO -- 4G World 2011 -- "It just made sense."

That's how Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s Iyad Tarazi, VP of network development and engineering, characterized the operator's decision to implement LTE-Advanced as part of its "Network Vision" infrastructure, when he spoke with Light Reading Mobile here on Wednesday evening in Chicago. (See Sprint Plans LTE-Advanced Launch in 2013.)

His point was that Release 10 of 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) LTE standard is largely complete, so it makes sense to deploy radios that can support multi-antenna devices and the software for interference and collision detection in the new specification. Basically, Sprint wants to avoid extra truck rolls if at all possible, since that all adds up money-wise.

This doesn't mean you're going to see 1Gbit/s downloads, however, when the service is switched on in 2013. Some of the latest LTE-Advanced tests use an 8x8 antenna array and up to 60MHz of spectrum to achieve near 1Gbit/s speeds, which is much more than Sprint or the majority of other major carriers globally have to play with. (See Sprint's LTE Advance Is a Move to Keep Up.)

Trazi is expecting speeds in "the 12Mbit/s to 15Mbit/s range" for tablets and other devices that can support the 4x4 antenna array needed for LTE-Advanced. He believes this will be more than adequate to stream high-quality video over the air to LTE-Advanced tablets.

Sprint is hoping that some multiple-antenna tablets will be arriving on the market as it offers the service in 2013.

Of course, Sprint has now capped data services for some devices at 5GB a month, even as smartphone plans remain unlimited. So -- as WiMax, LTE and the Advanced version become more popular -- some heavy tablet users may need to keep an eye on video usage to stay within their monthly limits.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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