Sprint Ready to Leapfrog to Multi-Mode

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) has revealed some more technical details of its plan to support 3G and "4G" wireless services on a single platform and announced that vendors Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) will start to deliver the hardware and software to implement the "Network Vision" project in 2011, saving the operator billions of dollars over time.

The heart of the plan is a multi-mode base station that will support CDMA, iDEN, and WiMax on a single platform. Sprint currently supports CDMA on 1900MHz, iDEN on 800MHz and -- through its partner Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) -- WiMax on 2.5GHz, all using separate equipment. Sprint had earlier referred to this plan as "Project Leapfrog" internally.

The plan is that the vendors supply hardware, software, and services that help the carrier consolidate these services, starting in 2011. The carrier expects that the project could take three to five years to complete.

Sprint says the project will be divided between Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Samsung on "a market-by-market basis." The markets for each company will include:

  • Alcatel-Lucent: New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington/Baltimore, and Los Angeles
  • Ericsson: Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Kansas City, and Dallas
  • Samsung: Chicago, Denver, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Seattle

    Why this matters
    Sprint estimates that it will send up to US$5 billion on the project over the initial three- to five-year deployment period and reap a net financial benefit over a seven-year period of between $10 billion and $11 billion. Cost savings are expected to come from capital efficiencies, reducing energy costs, lowering roaming expenses, backhaul savings, and the eventual reduction in total cell sites. Sprint expects to start seeing the net benefits from the project in 2013.

    Part of this plan calls for Sprint finally getting users off Nextel's old iDEN service and re-using the 800MHz spectrum to improve its CDMA network. Starting in 2011, Sprint plans to improve its push-to-talk (PTT) service on CDMA, move users over via multi-mode handsets, and then begin phasing out iDEN in 2013.

    For more
    Read more about the network project and iDEN below:

  • Sprint Gives 'Leapfrog' Details
  • 4G World: Sprint Ready to Play 'Leapfrog'
  • Sprint Keeps iDEN Assets
  • Sprint Is iDone With Some iDen Assets

    — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

  • spc_markl 12/5/2012 | 4:16:40 PM
    re: Sprint Ready to Leapfrog to Multi-Mode

    Why should we believe that Sprint is going to be that much more successful in shifting iDEN subscribers this time?

    Mark, Telecom Pragmatics

    joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:16:40 PM
    re: Sprint Ready to Leapfrog to Multi-Mode

    Much will depend on how much better the updated PTT software coming in 2011 is, I suspect.

    spc_markl 12/5/2012 | 4:16:39 PM
    re: Sprint Ready to Leapfrog to Multi-Mode

    Over the last several years, Sprint has been blowing hot and cold about having the necessary PTT capability on the CDMA network -- with not much to show for its efforts.


    Son Goku 12/5/2012 | 4:16:35 PM
    re: Sprint Ready to Leapfrog to Multi-Mode

    No role for Nokia/Motorola?

    spc_markl 12/5/2012 | 4:16:33 PM
    re: Sprint Ready to Leapfrog to Multi-Mode

    Sprint would avoid the trouble of eventually moving CDMA to 800MHz, if it would not be an essential part of the company's future broadband strategy (moving to EVDO Rev B, Rev C -- outside of the major metro areas).


    Kevin Mitchell 12/5/2012 | 4:16:32 PM
    re: Sprint Ready to Leapfrog to Multi-Mode

    I believe the implication of moviing PTT to CDMA (presumably using EVDO) will leverage SIP/IMS. This is akin to NTT DoCoMo's use of IMS.

    spc_markl 12/5/2012 | 4:16:31 PM
    re: Sprint Ready to Leapfrog to Multi-Mode

    Another possibility is that Sprint is really planning to put LTE on the 800MHz.


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