Verizon Wireless announced that it has launched XLTE in 22 new markets, bringing LTE to the AWS band (1700/2100 MHz), in addition to its 700 MHz LTE service. Verizon says that 4 out of 5 LTE markets, large and small, now have Verizon Wireless XLTE service.
According to Open Signal, T-Mobile is the fastest network in the US, with average speeds of 11.5 Mbps. Sprint performs worst of all US networks, according to Open Signal, posting LTE speeds that are scarcely faster than existing HSPA+, with their average speed of 4.3Mbps ranking as one of the slowest networks worldwide.
T-Mobile has been pursuing spectrum license swaps and acquisitions (from AT&T and MetroPCS) to reach the goal of supporting the 20+20 MHz (40MHz) LTE bandwidth.
- AT&T Mobility says the company’s LTE network now covers nearly 290 million POPs in more than 500 marketsacross the country. AT&T bought Leap Wireless (Cricket) for $1.2 billion, largely for their AWS spectrum. Leap’s PCS and AWS spectrum covers approximately 137 million potential customers
- Verizon Wireless’ 700 MHz LTE network covers around 306 million POPs. The carrier has also been busy deploying its LTE service on its AWS spectrum to bolster its network capacity. Verizon bought 122 AWS licenses from cable giants for $3.6 billion.
- T-Mobile’s CTO Neville Ray noted in June that T-Mobile is now offering “Wideband LTE,” with 15×15 MHz service, in 16 U.S. markets. Wideband LTE is their term for spectrum deployments of at least 15×15 MHz. T-Mobile is starting to deploy 4×2 MIMO antenna technology in its LTE network to enhance performance at the cell edge. T-Mobile has said that it will bring 40MHz LTE to 90% of the top 25 markets by the end of 2015, which means that 23 of the 25 most populous cities in the country will have it. These 40MHz LTE zones will support full Category 4 speeds, which top out at 150Mbps on the downlink and 51Mbps on the uplink.
- Sprint’s Spark combines 4G FDD-LTE at 800 Megahertz (MHz) and 1.9 Gigahertz (GHz) and TDD-LTE at 2.5GHz spectrum. But currently Sprint’s main 1.9 GHz LTE band uses only a 5×5 MHz bandwidth and their rollout of 2.5 GHz has been scaled back. According to Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure this week, “First we are going to focus in areas where our network is congested. And then secondly, we are going to go strong after a few cities rather than building out the 33,000 [2.5 GHz cell] sites.”
Sprint is rolling out 8T8R in its latest 2.5GHz installations (8 transmitters, 8 receivers). That results in better range and speed. Unfortunately, Sprint’s subscribers may not see much improvement since current WiMax subscribers utilize 30 MHz (10 MHz times 3 sectors).
Sprint has said they will utilize the same spectrum footprint with LTE, allocating it differently. With Sprint Spark, apparently, the same 2.5 GHz bandwidth will now be shared among both WiMax subscribers (10 MHZ across 3 sectors) and TD-LTE subscribers (20 Mhz across 3 sectors). The net result of this approach is still unclear. It may be that 2.5 GHz will not be the salvation Sprint had hoped.
Sprint doesn’t need 120 MHz of 2.5 GHz – but other carriers – especially AT&T – might find it useful for small cells. Sprint’s John Saw says the company wants to use Sprint Spark and TDD-LTE for small cell solutions to add capacity in densely populated areas.
Verizon is opened up to the possibility of selling its wireless towers, according to FierceWireless, because of AT&T’s agreement last year to sell and lease 9,700 of its cell towers to Crown Castle in a $4.85 billion deal. Verizon has between 12,000 to 15,000 towers and may be looking to sell about 12,500 sites.
Crown Castle acquired the rights to operate 7,200 T-Mobile towers for $2.4 billion in 2012. Tower operators like Crown Castle, American Tower and SBA Communications provide lease space to a variety of carriers.
Any Dish/Sprint or Dish/T-Mobile deal is reportedly unlikely — until after the 600 MHz auction. As a consumer, I’m partial to a move by Google or Facebook into telecommunications. Dish might be a good partner for Google – particularly if it could acquire 40 MHz of 2.5 GHz for small cells. Maybe Starbucks will be the next “carrier”.
4G Americas reports that in North America, LTE technology represented 33 percent or 127 million LTE connections of the total 391 million mobile connections in North America. It’s the largest market share for LTE (45%), compared to any country or region in the world.