Sprint WiMax: RIP Nov 2015

Sprint confirmed to Fierce Wireless that it will shut off service on its mobile WIMAX network on or around Nov. 6, 2015. The date was first unearthed in an internal company email posted by Android Central.

In April, Sprint said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it would “cease using WiMAX technology by the end of 2015.”

It will also mean that Sprint will be decommissioning at least 6,000 of their 55,000 towers in the process. Sprint is going to take their new combined assets with Clearwire and continue building out their new LTE-Advanced “Spark” network.

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.

Sprint Spark combines Sprint’s 800 MHz, 1900 MHz and 2.5 GHz spectrum to offer devices faster speeds while minimizing tower infrastructure. Sprint is deploying 8T8R antennas, using 8 transmit and 8 receive antennas, that are expected to boost range and speed some 1.5 times in the 2.6 GHz band. Sprint hopes to make coverage similar to its LTE network on their 1.9 GHz PCS band, which is currently limited to 5×5 MHz bandwidth.

Sprint is rolling out 8T8R in its latest 2.5GHz installations. Sprint, however, has said that it no longer expects to put the 2.5 GHz band on every tower, instead focusing on urban centers.

Sprint Spark is expected to cover 100 million POPs by year-end. Sprint Spark coverage is a long way from the 250 million of AT&T and Verizon. Sprint says its LTE is available in 488 cities covering approximately 254 million people (pops), but only in their narrow (5×5 MHz) PCS spectrum slice and their newly repurposed 800 MHz band. Lots of Sprint’s LTE bandwidth is also spoken for by wholesale providers.

Even T-Mobile now covers 230 million POPs with its LTE network. The carrier plans to cover 250 million POPs with LTE by the end of 2014. 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.

AT&T Mobility says the company’s LTE network now covers nearly 290 million POPs in more than 500 markets across 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.

Sprint rolled out WiMAX, called “Xohm” in August 2007 in Baltimore and in Portland in January, 2009. But WiMax coverage was limited by the high frequency and the delay bringing it to market didn’t help. Only one year later, 700 MHz LTE was launched by Verizon and AT&T, with vastly better coverage. Phones and tablets soon adopted the telco-developed LTE standard and WiMax, using a single channel Time Division data transmission became an also ran.

China Mobile, India, Sprint and others are now utilizing TD-LTE, with the latest revisions allowing larger carrier aggregation, MIMO, and direct, device-to-device communications.

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Karma and Freedom Pop Move to LTE

Karma, which is building a community of mobile hotspots whose users share their connections, announced today it is moving to Sprint’s LTE network from their WiMax system. So far it has attracted 50,000 users.

The details of the new device and service haven’t been worked out, reports GigaOm, but Karma is hoping it will connect to Sprint’s new Spark network, an amalgamation of Sprint’s three LTE systems that can support speeds over 50 Mbps.

Karma offers 100 MB for free when customers first connect, and it rewards hotspot owners 100 MB whenever they share their connections with a new customer. It sells additional data for $17 a gigabyte — or $99 for 10 GBs — but that data never expires.

It’s similar to FreedomPop, the Clearwire-powered 4G service. FreedomPop offers a mobile hot spot and 500MB of data per month, with the option of earning extra by referring friends. FreedomPop charges $10 per 1GB. With promotions you can get 2GB LTE Data FREE for the first month, then 500MB FREE every month after that. FreedomPop’s 4G MiFi hot-spot uses Sprint’s LTE network, and drops down to 3G if there’s no 4G present. The 5580 LTE Hotspot costs between $150-$200.

Hotspots that are Sprint Spark-compatible include Netgear Zing Mobile and MiFi 500 LTE by Novatel. Sprint’s Spark-enabled smartphones include the $350 Nexus 5, which includes WiFi hotspot functionality. The new Google phone has dual-band Wi-Fi with a/b/g/n/ac support and Wi-Fi Direct. It will support 3G/4G LTE mobile hotspot capability for up to eight Wi-Fi enabled devices. Prepaid options start at $30/month through T-Mobile.

Put a Nexus 5 hotspot in every bus stop. City-wide WiFi should cost no more than $350 a pop and $20/month. For 1,000 bus stops, city-wide WiFi might cost $350,000 and $20K a month for connectivity. Less than the cost of one bus. A profit center with location-based ads. Google and Microsoft might provide LTE phones and tablets.

That approach might be cheaper than its own RFP. City-wide free WiFi might be a grassroots kickstarter project. DIY Muni-Fi. A non-profit utility. Easily scaled. Shared (public/private) fiber backbones enable cost/effective small cells for everyone.

Public art with a social component.

See: LA Plans City-wide Broadband and Tools for Location-based Mobile Ads

South Korea Abandoning WiBro

The Korean government has given up on WiMax, reports Business Korea. South Korea pioneered the WiBro standard, which became the foundation for 802.16e, the mobilized version of WiMax.

In late 2005, the ITU adopted WiBro as IEEE 802.16e (mobile WiMAX). Two South Korean carriers, Korea Telecom and SK Telecom, launched commercial service in June 2006.

Sprint became a big backer of WiMax in 2007, and began offering WiMax services in earnest in 2009.

“Sprint will have 100 million covered by the end of 2008 and be in 35 markets,” said Sprint’s Barry West in 2007. It wasn’t until 2009 that Sprint’s WiMax launched.

It never really got off the ground. It didn’t help that the 2.6GHz band had lousy coverage.

The majority of cellular providers backed the incompatible FD-LTE standard, that came to dominate broadband wireless.

Verizon launched FD-LTE only 18 months later, in December 2010 after Sprint’s WiMax rollout in 2009. Verizon made a huge commitment to Frequency Division LTE in the 700 MHz band. Verizon’s coverage at 700 MHz soon eclipsed Sprint’s WiMax coverage at 2.6 GHz. AT&T launched their LTE service in Sept 2011.

Later, TD-LTE provided unpaired frequencies, especially in the 2.3 and 2.6 GHz bands. Sprint adopted TD-LTE and the standard has now been adopted by larger carriers in China, India, and elsewhere. No less than 59 mobile carriers have adopted LTE-TDD as of the end of July this year, accelerating the shift from WiMax to LTE.

With the momentum moving to LTE, the South Korean government has made a policy decision to convert WiBro services to time division duplex (TDD) LTE service.

Speaking at an investor conference last week, Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer indicated that the US mobile giant expects to deploy TD-LTE across 5,500 Clearwire WiMAX base stations by the end of the year. Steve Elfman, president of network operations at Sprint, said that beginning in 2014, all of the carrier’s devices will be capable of operating on 2.5 GHz TD-LTE. Both China Mobile and Sprint plan to use essentially all of the 2.6 GHz spectrum (Band 41) for TD-LTE.

The 2.3GHz band was dedicated to WiBro services in South Korea. The government is currently mulling over the business permits for TD-LTE in the 2.5GHz frequency band. The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning announced on September 12 that it has worked on related policy by setting up a task force including industry experts and research institutes in May. The announcement implies that the Korean government has set out to drop mobile WiMax in favor of LTE-TDD.

According to Business Korea, the ministry is planning to let new service providers select between WiBro and LTE-TDD for the 40MHz frequency in the 2.5GHz band. Mobile WiMax services, which are available now in the 2.3GHz band, will be converted to LTE-TDD in a phased manner.

The government hopes to boost their competitiveness in the LTE-TDD market, and is expected to prepare a national plan for the development of the LTE-TDD segment within this year.

The WiMAX Forum hoped that Clear, in the United States, UQ in Japan, KT in South Korea, VMAX in Taiwan and Packet One of Indonesia would hang in there and that India would come around. No such luck.

In other TD-LTE news, Australia’s carrier Optus has switched on a TD-LTE network, dubbed “4G Plus”, in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, complementing their existing frequency-division (FD) LTE network in those cities. Optus first tested the technology in Canberra, which does not have an FD-LTE network.

The Optus TD-LTE network will use spectrum on the 2.3GHz band. The existing FD-LTE network runs on the 1800MHz band. A dual band TDD/FDD-LTE version of Samsung’s GALAXY S4 mini and GALAXY S4 is available on the Optus LTE network.

According to Andrew Smith, Optus’ Vice President of Optus Mobile Engineering, the company plans combined TD-LTE 2300 MHz and FD-LTE 1800 MHz networks and is preparing for 700 MHz and 2500 MHz next year.

Related Dailywireless articles include; WiMax: East Meets West, KT + Intel: WiBro Everywhere, WiBro Expands Thoughout Seoul, South Korea: SK Telecom Goes LTE,
Now Two South Korean LTE-A Networks , Japan’s WiMAX Gets Going, WiMAX Global War in Japan, Japan Launching WiMAX Rival, Japan Sub-channels WiMAX, India’s Broadband Auction: It’s Done, Yota Dumps WiMAX, Sprint WiMax called Xohm, Sprint’s WiMAX Rollout, Clearwire’s Launch Party in Portland, Verizon Launching LTE Dec 2010, Verizon 700 MHz LTE: We’re Done!, AT&T LTE Launch Sept 2011, WiMAX Forum: In Trouble?, Korea’s WiBro in Trouble?

Sprint Files Lawsuite to Prevent Dish Takeover of Clearwire

Sprint Nextel has filed a lawsuit against Dish and Clearwire seeking to prevent Clearwire from accepting Dish’s tender offer as well as other injunctive and compensatory relief.

The lawsuit details how Dish has “repeatedly attempted to fool Clearwire’s shareholders into believing its proposal was actionable in an effort to acquire Clearwire’s spectrum and to obstruct Sprint’s transaction with Clearwire,” Sprint said in a statement on Monday.

The 46-page lawsuit said Clearwire’s board of directors “panicked” by dumping a planned merger with Overland Park-based Sprint in favor of an “illegal” rival bid by Dish.

Dish Network said today it would not make a new offer to buy Sprint and will instead focus on its tender offer for Clearwire Corp.

Dish said in a statement that it was not practical for it to submit a revised offer by the June 18 deadline imposed by Sprint even though it “continues to see strategic value in a merger with Sprint.” The decision may be good news for Japan’s SoftBank, which is also trying to buy Sprint.

Sprint announced in December that Clearwire had agreed to a deal to sell the 50 percent of Clearwire that Sprint does not currently own for $2.97 per share, or $2.2 billion. But Dish countered with a surprise unsolicited bid for Clearwire of $3.30 per share, or $5.15 billion.

Sprint revised its proposal last month to $3.40 a share, edging Dish’s offer by 10 cents a share, an offer Sprint called its “best and final.” Two days before stockholders were scheduled to vote on Sprint’s proposal, Dish came back with an offer that exceeded Sprint’s by $1 a share, valuing the company at $6.3 billion.

The WSJ explains How Clearwire Became the Darling of Telecom.

John Stanton, the current chairman of the board of Clearwire, is a legendary deal maker. Craig McCaw’s alter ego created McCaw Cellular on 800 MHz from scratch, and orchestrated the sale to AT&T for $12 billion. He then created Western Wireless on the 1.9 Ghz PCS band (which became T-Mobile USA) and transformed Nextel into a cellular service, which was then sold to Sprint.

Charlie Ergen, like Craig McCaw and John Stanton, is a compelling character. The new greenfield is 600 MHz, Dish’s 2.1 GHz band, and the small cell frontier on two dot six.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Clearwire Board Backs Dish, SoftBank Upps the Bid for Sprint, Un-Clearwire?, Clearwire Ownership Vote Delayed 2 Weeks, Battle for Clearwire, Clearwire Committee Likes Sprint Offer Best, Verizon to Buy Clear Spectrum for $1.5 Billion?, Sprint Buyout of Clearwire Fought by Crest Financial, Sprint to Buy Clearwire, DISH Proposes to Buy Clearwire, Sprint Buying Clearwire?, Sprint + Dish?, Sprint Gets Majority Control over Clearwire, Sprint Won’t Buy Clear – For Now, Clearwire Cuts TD-LTE Deployment

Clearwire Board Backs Dish

Clearwire today announced that its Special Committee and Board of Directors has officially changed positions and now supports DISH Network’s $4.40 Per Share Tender Offer. The decision was a boost for Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen who is also in a takeover battle with SoftBank to take full control of Sprint.

Dish needs at least 25-percent of the company to block Sprint’s buyout of Clearwire because Sprint needs a majority of the minority shareholders to approve its plan to buyout the rest (49.5-percent) of the company it doesn’t already own. Sprint previously had said its $3.40 per share bid for Clearwire was final.

“Sprint without Clearwire is a company without spectrum to do many of the 4G things they want to do,” said Walt Piecyk, an analyst at BTIG LLC. “If you now have Clearwire recommending Dish, that’s a leg up Ergen has to buy Sprint and Clearwire.”

Earlier this week, SoftBank raised its bid for Sprint to $21.6 billion for 78 percent of the company in response to Dish’s offer of $25.5 billion.

Clearwire plans to adjourn its Special Meeting of Stockholders, which is currently scheduled to be held at 10:30 a.m. Pacific time on Thursday, June 13, 2013, without conducting any business.

The Company plans to reconvene the Special Meeting of Stockholders on Monday, June 24 at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time at the Kirkland Performing Arts Center, in Kirkland, Washington.

Related Dailywireless articles include; SoftBank Upps the Bid for Sprint, Un-Clearwire?, Clearwire Ownership Vote Delayed 2 Weeks, Battle for Clearwire, Clearwire Committee Likes Sprint Offer Best, Verizon to Buy Clear Spectrum for $1.5 Billion?, Sprint Buyout of Clearwire Fought by Crest Financial, Sprint to Buy Clearwire, DISH Proposes to Buy Clearwire, Sprint Buying Clearwire?, Sprint + Dish?, Sprint Gets Majority Control over Clearwire, Sprint Won’t Buy Clear – For Now, Clearwire Cuts TD-LTE Deployment

WISPAmerica 2013

WISPAmerica 2013 starts in two weeks in Covington, KY (Cincinnati). It’s the largest conference held to discuss national spectrum efficient techniques, sharing of unlicensed and licensed spectrum and the development of cost effective ubiquitous broadband networks.

The conference agenda also includes 60 wireless infrastructure manufacturers, software companies, cloud service providers, VoIP solution providers. This spring’s event will be held at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, in Covington, Kentucky, also known as the “Southern Side of Cincinnati”.

There is a lot going on in the wireless ISP space. Recent developments include white spaces, new extensions to the 5 GHz band and the 3.5 GHz band, and new developments in backhaul. On the down site, the failure of WiMax to attain traction in its battle with LTE, likely means higher costs. LTE infrastructure providers are dominated by large corporations who can afford the complexity and intellectual property expenses.

WiMax was designed to deliver inexpensive wireless broadband on unlicensed 5 GHz and 3.5 GHz frequencies as well as licensed 2.5/2.6 GHz and 2.3 GHz bands. It has features that unlicensed WiFi doesn’t have that enable it to deliver cost/effective municipal and community wireless services over many miles.

The WiMax Forum has largely given up on WiMAX 2.0 and is instead promoting integration with LTE. The Forum board unanimously approved a proposal to add TD-LTE support to the upcoming WiMAX 2.1 specifications.

The WiMAX Forum’s core operator community operates networks on 2.3, 2.5 and 3.5 GHz spectrum and serves a customer base in excess of 30 million subscribers. With the roadmap change, the group is aiming to give its membership the technical ability to accommodate multiple ecosystems within a WiMAX network.

White-space networks will be limited in its coverage and speed, but further complicated by being suited only for fixed operations, says Peter Rysavy. This is because the technologies currently envisioned to operate in the white space spectrum rely on the modem’s current location to query a database to learn what frequencies it is authorized to use.

There are two different standards being developed for white-space spectrum, IEEE 802.11af and IEEE 802.22. But 802.22 is not going to set the world on fire. It’s limited to a 6 MHz channel and one watt.

Rural users might find that satellite broadband or even LTE might be a better bet for practical service. AT&T and Verizon will likely set the price artificially high.

Verizon currently charges $120/month for their rural Home Fusion LTE service (right).

If the FCC really wanted to do something about ubiquitous broadband, the most cost/effective action they could take is to make the 600 MHz band available to Wireless ISPs.

Some well regarded telecommunications analysts believe that a better FCC plan for utilization of the 600 MHz band would be to make available one third of the spectrum (40 MHz) for unlicensed use. The other two thirds (80 MHz) might be auctioned to carriers. Currently, the FCC wants to maximize their licensed revenue in order to (began) to pay for First Net. Currently, unlicensed White Spaces in the 600 MHz band would only be available in “guard band” slivers, limited in power and bandwidth.

T-Mobile and the National Association of Broadcasters want to eliminate unlicensed spectrum in the 600 MHz band, altogether. The “deal” between the NAB and T-Mobile is apparently not available to the public.

One might assume the T-Mobile/NAB deal would enrich NAB group owners through multi-casting video using LTE Broadcast in spectrum currently targeted for unlicensed use. Carriers don’t like “free” spectrum any better than the NAB (except when it comes to their own spectrum).

FirstNet is the worst thing that ever happened to ubiquitous broadband in the United States. It will siphon $20 billion from the treasury while eliminating inexpensive rural broadband in the 600MHz and 700 MHz band. Charles Dowd, the deputy chief of the New York City Police Department is in charge of the massive communications system.

Let the biggest 100 cities pay for FirstNet. They’re the only ones who will use it — or can afford it. Courtesy of Uncle Sugar.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Municipal Broadband: On Again?, FirstNet: Get Utilities to Pay for It, FirstNet Congressional Hearing, White Space Backhaul at SXSW, Cellcos to FCC: Give Us 2 GHz TV Microwave, Seattle’s Gigabit Fiber CityNet , Chicago Announces Free WiFi in Parks, Municipal Networks: Good for Cities?, Genachoski : Gigabit Fiber in 50 States by 2015 , White Spaces to the Rescue?, White Space Radio using 802.11af Demoed, FCC: TV Auction in 2014, UK Broadband: TD-LTE at 3.5GHz, UK White Space Trial: Some Unimpressed, Mobile: The New Television, Spectrum Bridge Partners with Carlson Wireless, Microsoft Announced Narrow Channel Whitespace, SF Public Service Net: In Trouble?, Street light Provides Wi-Fi, Cell Coverage, Hotspot 2.0, Public Safety Spectrum Grab