Sprint CTO: Don't Forget About Gigabit LTE

Sprint's CTO, John Saw, says that the operator will start deploying "Gigabit LTE" across "major markets" this year, starting with New Orleans.

The Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) CTO highlighted the operator's move towards Gigabit LTE in a new blog ostensively about the operator's plans to deploy 5G on its 2.5GHz spectrum. (See Sprint Plans 2.5GHz-Based 5G Launch in 2019.)

He also, however, writes about Sprint's further plans for updates to its 4G networks:

    Today’s most advanced radio antennas are 8T8R (8 transmitters, 8 receivers) - it’s what we use on our 2.5 GHz cell sites. And 8T8R is only possible using high-band spectrum - an 8T8R antenna using 600 MHz spectrum would be impractically huge! But we are not done yet. We plan to take Sprint Gigabit LTE to the next level with 64T64R (that’s 128 antenna elements!) Massive MIMO [multiple input, multiple output] antennas. This will increase our cell site capacities 5 to 10 times, to reach 3-6 Gbps per sector, long before 5G arrives.

The NOLA kick-off won't be a surprise for regular Light Readers. Sprint demonstrated 600-Mbit/s downloads in the Big Easy earlier this year, while massive MIMO antennas will arrive first for higher-band networks like 2.5GHz. (See Sprint to Be 1st in US With Massive MIMO? and Gigabit LTE: Sprint's MIMO Gras in New Orleans for more.)

To achieve near-Gigabit LTE speeds, an operator needs at least 4x4 MIMO antennas -- preferably on the network and handset -- 60MHz of available spectrum, and updated 256 QAM modulation on the network. Sprint claims an average of 160MHz of 2.5GHz across major markets. In theory, at least, this means that Sprint has enough available spectrum to deploy the LTE-Advanced updates -- and 5G -- on its 2.5GHz spectrum.

Want to know more about 5G? Check out our dedicated 5G content channel here on
Light Reading.

CTO Saw notes in his blog that 2.5GHz will now be one of the bands in the early 5G New Radio specification, which is expected to be completed in December 2017. (See 3GPP Approves Plans to Fast Track 5G NR.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

KBode 5/15/2017 | 7:54:25 AM
Promising... Certainly looks promising. That said, I'd still be very happy if the 8-10 Mbps LTE connection I have right now was simply a bit cheaper. I barely use that connectivity while traveling; can't imagine anybody needing more than 25-50 Mbps while on the road. Still, overkill is fun, I suppose. :)
Phil_Britt 5/18/2017 | 7:30:23 PM
Re: Promising... They could start with "overkill," but if the revenues don't pan out, the New Orleans market may be one of only a few with this kind of service. Case in point: At one time Verizon had tremendous expansion plans for FIOS, but not so much any more.
kq4ym 5/23/2017 | 1:53:50 PM
Re: Promising... I was curious about the remark that "an 8T8R antenna using 600 MHz spectrum would be impractically huge." Yes, of course it would be larger, but "impractivally huge" I'm not so sure about. There's always tradeoffs going up the frequency even though smaller antennas are need the higher you go.
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