Sprint’s LTE Plans Leaked

Sprint is already installing LTE equipment and has been field testing the network in select areas, reports C/Net. The company hopes to launch commercial service by the end of the first quarter, although it’s unclear how many markets will get the service initially.

According to C/Net, Sprint plans to use Nextel’s 800 MHz spectrum for the Frequency Division flavor of LTE. Sprint-Nextel hopes to free up spectrum once it moves people from iDEN, a 2G technology, best known for its walkie-talkie-like feature. The company previously said it expects to shut down the iDEN network by 2013.

Sprint spokeswoman Leigh Horner declined to comment, saying only to wait until the company’s event next week.

Sprint today announced it will launch Sprint Direct Connect this Sunday, which features push–to-talk on its 3G, CDMA network (on 1.9 GHz). Sprint Direct Connect will come packed with broadband data capabilities, push-to-talk features and rugged and reliable handsets. In the fourth quarter, Sprint will begin to offer three new Sprint Direct Connect devices. The first new handset, Kyocera DuraMax, will be available Oct. 2 for $69.99.

Sprint would use the same FD-LTE variant on Nextel’s 800 MHz spectrum. Clearwire, on the other hand, chose LTE Advanced for their 2.6 GHz spectrum. Sprint’s 4G LTE network would allow Sprint to offload some of its 3G data traffic onto 4G, relieving a growing burden. But how soon the 800 MHz spectrum could be freed up is debatable.

FierceWireless mistakenly believes Sprint will use D-Block 700 MHz spectrum for the deployment as well as 800 MHz spectrum currently being used by Sprint’s iDEN network. But that’s a misstatement since the lower 700MHz “D Block” is currently owned largely by Qualcomm (they’re trying to sell it to AT&T), while the upper 700 MHz “D Block” is currently being contested for Public Service users and not owned by anyone.

UPDATE: C/Net has now changed their copy to read; “Sprint is opting to use its ‘G-block’ spectrum, which it got from its acquisition of Nextel”.

Nextel’s iDEN (Integrated Dispatch Enhanced Network) is a TDMA trunked radio system that operates between 806-824 and 851-869 MHz.

MetroPCS (below) is currently using LTE in narrow channels. Sprint might adopt a similar model, using only some of the spectrum for FD-LTE and some for iDEN.

The 2.6GHz band might be another animal. If Sprint goes with TD-LTE on 2.6GHz, roaming between Sprint and other carriers might be problematic, but it would make spectrum management easier. A mix of paired and unpaired frequencies for LTE might be a good bet for 2.6 GHz spectrum.

LTE Advanced is an official “4G” standard. It’s defined by the ITU as delivering 100 Mbps (mobile) and 1 Gbps (fixed). Clearwire says it delivers download speeds in excess of 120 megabits per second, and will use it to augment densely populated areas of the market.

Sprint’s Network Vision architecture will be supplied by Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, and Samsung, which will replace their CDMA and iDEN gear with new frequency-and radio-agnostic equipment. It will likely feature both WiMAX and LTE-Advanced on their 2.6 GHz spectrum. Sequans is working with Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks, Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent and ZTE on LTE interoperability. The project, which is expected to cost $4 billion to $5 billion over the next three to five years, will swap in new equipment that can run multiple wireless technologies, from its 3G CDMA network to LTE.

Citi analysts believes 4G could constitute as much as 57% of wireless traffic by 2015. Carriers may utilize as much as 280 MHz of allocated space for LTE (still only 52% of their allotted 538 MHz) without the need to annex additional spectrum space.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Clearwire Chooses LTE Advanced, Will Sprint Go TD-LTE?, WiMAX to TD-LTE: Everybody’s Doin’ It, Speculation on Sprint Infrastructure, LG Telecom: CDMA & LTE Handover, LTE Spectrum: It’s War, German 4G Auction: It’s Done, Auctions Winding Down in Germany & India, EU: Global LTE Roaming at 1.8 GHz, End Near for Indian WiMAX?, WiMAX & LTE: Policy Vs Pragmatism, Intel: LTE Not Nail in Coffin, India’s Broadband Auction: It’s Done, TD-LTE Gains Momentum, WiMAX Forum: Not Dead Yet, Yota Dumps WiMAX,

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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