Sprint Gets iPhone 5 Exclusivity?

Sprint Nextel will spend some $20 billion to finally get its hands on Apple’s iPhone, reports the WS Journal. Sprint reportedly has ordered a total of 30.5 million iPhones over the next four years for a total commitment of $20 billion.

AT&T and Verizon sold 12 million iPhones within the first six months of the year. Boy Genius Report adds that Sprint’s massive bet may have secured it the exclusive rights to the redesigned iPhone 5. Dan Hesse reportedly told the board in August that Sprint would likely lose money on the deal until 2014.

Boy Genius guesses the iPhone 4S Apple will feature:

  • A low voltage Apple A5 CPU (it won’t be the same as the iPad 2 chip, clock for clock).
  • Updated front and back camera sensors. FaceTime HD in the front, 8-megapixel 1080p HD video recording in the back.
  • Multiband 3G Qualcomm chipset — North American & International GSM/UMTS/HSPA bands for AT&T and Global carriers, North American CDMA & International GSM/UMTS/HSPA bands for Verizon and Sprint.
  • NFC support.
  • Metal or “premium” plastic on the back case.

The iPhone 5 will reportedly launch as a Sprint exclusive:

  • WiMAX support.
  • Faster CPU.
  • Larger 4-inch screen, similar to LG’s NOVA display but with a higher resolution.
  • 1GB of RAM.
  • Slightly larger design overall, but thinner and with a larger battery.
  • 32GB of storage.
  • iPhone 5 exclusive software and APIs (Assistant).
  • Dedicated Assistant button, possibly integrated with the new home button, “think gestures or a two-stage button like a camera shutter key).

Sprint, unlike its larger rivals, still offers unlimited smartphone data plans. Globally, the iPhone 5 might be available as a 4G HSPA+ device. China Mobile, like Clearwire (and probably Sprint), is building a TD-LTE network, and is also said to be angling for the iPhone.

Apple will announce their new iPhones on the 4th, while Sprint will announce their 4G plans on the 7th. Sprint will likely go with FD-LTE in Nextel’s 800 MHz spectrum while opting for TD-LTE in the 2.6GHz bands.

Sprint Nextel may launch FD-LTE service on Nextel’s PCS spectrum (1.9GHz) which Nextel acquired (but has not yet used) from Nextel’s Consensus Plan swap. Nextel gave their interfering 800 MHz frequencies to public safety users in exchange for 10 MHz in the PCS band. That spectrum is still not utilized because Nextel first had to move legacy users – tv remote trucks – to another frequency and buy microwave gear for them. Currently Nextel offers iDEN service on 800 MHz. In the future FD-LTE may be used Nextel’s 800 MHZ and 1.9 GHz bands and TD-LTE in their 2.6 GHz band.

That might imply that Sprint (and Apple) would need chips that can support both the Time Division and Frequency Division flavors, as well as CDMA. A “world phone” would have to support GSM/UMTS as well as HSPA+ and LTE in both flavors.

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.

Sequans and Huawei are teaming on a large scale TD-LTE trial in Shenzhen, conducted on China Mobile’s network, using devices based on Sequans’ TD-LTE chipset. Their SQN1310 chip does TDD and FDD WiMAX. ZTE, the other large Chinese vendor, is also believed to to provide LTE TDD radio equipment for Bharti Airtel in India.

The decision by Reliance and Qualcomm to back LTE TDD, appears to have resulted in an unstoppable TD-LTE wave in both India and China. Sequans and Qualcomm chips can support both the Time Division and Frequency Division flavors of LTE.

Oh, wait… The iPhone 5 apparently will NOT feature 4G network speeds even as competing devices running the Google Android operating system have embraced the technology.

Stay tuned…

Related Dailywireless articles include; iPhone: The Big Launch, Sprint’s LTE Plans Leaked, Softband Mobile Goes TD-LTE, Sprint’s LTE Plans Leaked, 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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