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.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Clearwire’s Launch Party in Portland, Clearwire Portland Launch: Jan 6th, Clearwire in Portland, Clearwire: Let’s be “Clear”, Green Light for New Clearwire, iPCS Withdraws Injuction Against Sprint WiMAX, Clearwire: Show Us the Money, Xohm Marks the Spot, Chicago Xohmed Next?, WiMAX Doomed? Not., Mobile WiMAX: Fast, Cheap and Out of Control?, Mobile WiMAX Cooking- But Still in the Kitchen, WiMAX Roundup, Australia Unwired, Australian Blowup, BT’s European WiMAX Plan, Backhaul Delays Xohm Rollout, Hesse on WiMAX, Sprint’s WiMAX Rollout?, Sprint-Clearwire Deal Dead, Sprint Considering WiMAX Spinoff?, Sprint Forces Forsee Out, WiMAX Demoed on Chicago River, The Launch, ICO Wants Its Mobile TV – via DVB-SH, Google Apps for Clearwire, Sprint WiMAX: It’s Called “Xohm”, Xohm “Partners”?, Death to WiMAX?, Verizon: It’s LTE, and Sprint: It’s WiMAX!

WiMax Forum Objects to “Citizens Band” on 3.65-3.70 GHz

The WiMAX Forum, the global body that certifies and promotes products based on the 802.16 standard, is urging the FCC not to include the 3.65-3.7 GHz spectrum band in the anticipated 3.55-3.65 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS).

The 3.5G industry has already matured with 11 commercial networks globally, such as Relish in London, and the world’s first 3.5GHz Smartphone.

The 3.5 GHz Interest Group promotes LTE TDD spectrum bands 42 and 43. Global harmonization of 3.5 GHz spectrum will enable sharing of costs, particularly for chipsets and terminals.

The FCC hopes to add an additional 50 MHz from 3650-3700 MHz, in the Citizens Broadband Service. That includes incumbent WiMax operators. The proposed Citizens Broadband rules cover the spectrum between 3550 MHz and 3650 MHz, and the FCC seeks comment on extending the proposed service to 3700 MHz.

The FCC hopes to make 150 MHz available in the 3.5 GHz band and proposed a three-tiered access and sharing model comprised of federal and non-federal incumbents, priority access licensees, and general authorized access users.

The general public would be allowed access to the band on an “opportunistic basis” within designated geographic areas, but they would have to live with the interference caused by other users. Because the federal use in this band occurs primarily around the coasts, the FCC sees it as an opportunity for testing shared wireless broadband.

Small cells are a big driver of the new band, according to the FCC.

Current users in the 3650-3700 MHz band would be reclassified as general authorized access users. Incumbents in the 3.65 GHz band include Utilities and Oil and Gas companies, and hundreds of small Wireless Internet Service Providers mainly serving rural users.

“There are over 2,000 registrants currently in the 3.65 GHz FCC database, with over 100 Utilities as incumbent operators in this band,” said Declan Byrne, President of the WiMAX Forum. “The FCC is embarking on an innovative, but untested plan for spectrum sharing through dynamic spectrum management and the auctioning of one-year licenses for the 3.55 -3.65 GHz CBRS band.

“We simply advise caution from proceeding too rapidly into untested waters. Sandbox the innovation to the 3.55-3.65 GHz band, where such a novel approach is clearly necessary. There is time down the road to expand the CBRS with the additional 3.65 GHz spectrum if the new rules and processes work out,” concluded Byrne.

Still, some 50-60 percent of the U.S. population will not be able to use the 3.5 GHz band which is often used by million watt ship and aircraft radar. That generally eliminates commercial use along coasts and near DOD training sites. The Navy’s Aegis Spy Radar operates in S-band, from about 3.1 to 3.5 GHz using a 400 MHz wideband waveform constructed from ten 40 MHz bandwidth pulses frequency jumping from 3.1 to 3.5 GHz.

The 3.5 GHz Interest Group promotes LTE TDD spectrum bands 42 and 43. The Citizens Broadband Radio Service would essentially expand unlicensed frequencies, using spectrum sharing, with database technology similar to that developed for White Spaces.

Deployment of public access small cells will rise from under 30,000 in 2011 to 11.3 million in 2016, amounting to a capex spend of almost $4 billion, according to Maravedis, and will be partly driven by the availability of more spectrum, including 100MHz in the 3.5GHz band.

Another band being eyed for sharing between government users and commercial interests is the 4.9 GHz band, which consists of a contiguous block of 50 MHz located at 4940-4990 MHz and is currently designated for public-safety fixed and mobile uses.

In July 2012, a Presidential Commission recommended that the Federal Government identify 1,000 megahertz of federal spectrum for shared use to create “the first shared use spectrum superhighways.”

Related Dailywireless articles include; FCC Opens 3.5 GHz for Shared Access, FCC Boss Wheeler Pushes for 3.5 GHz Spectrum Sharing, FCC Paves Way for 3.5GHz Band Nationwide, FCC Dishes Dirt, Talks Up 3.5 GHz, FCC Limits Dish on LTE Terrestrial Spectrum, Dish: On the Move, Dish and Sprint Battle over PCS band Extension, FCC Approves 2.3 GHz for AT&T, AT&T Likely to Get 2.3 GHz, Sprint’s Dish Compromise, MetroPCS Merges with T-Mobile USA, T-Mobile Gets AWS Spectrum from Breakup, FirstNet: The Asymetrical Threat, Spectrum War: Unlicensed, Shared and Auctioned, White Spaces: Nationwide by Mid January, FCC: TV Auction in 2014, Genachowski Lobbies for Unlicensed White Spaces, Universal Service Reform Passed

T-Mobile: LTE Everywhere by Mid 2015

T-Mobile US today said it will upgrade its 2G EDGE network to LTE almost completely by the middle of 2015. T-Mobile’s LTE network, now one year into its rollout, currently covers 210 million people in 273 metro areas. T-Mobile said its HSPA+ network now covers 230 million POPs. Mosaik has coverage maps of the 4 big carriers (below).

“Our 4G LTE is going to reach 230 million people across the U.S. by mid-year. By year’s end, we’re going to be delivering wicked-fast 4G LTE to more than 250 million people. That’s how the Un-carrier rolls out 4G LTE,” said Neville Ray, Chief Technology Officer for T-Mobile.

Approximately 90% of T-Mobile’s network traffic is on their 3G (PCS) and 4G (AWS) bands. Their PCS band at 1900 is now underused with voice and HSPA+. They are re-farming the excess 1900 MHz spectrum to LTE. T-Mobile moved much of their HSPA traffic from the AWS band to their PCS band in order to make room for LTE services on the AWS band.

T-Mobile said it plans to complete 50 percent of the work on its 2G/EDGE network upgrade this year, and expects the program to be substantially complete by the middle of next year.

T-Mobile also plans to begin deploying LTE this year in the 700 MHz A Block spectrum the company is buying from Verizon.

T-Mobile says that will give them coverage in 9 of the top 10 and 21 of the top 30 US markets. Then T-Mobile’s LTE service will be available across three bands: 700 MHz, 1900 MHz and 2100 MHz AWS.

The market share of the Big Four is about 93 percent. Any deal between Sprint and T-Mobile would face an uphill battle with regulators, since it reduces the big four to the big three.

The dynamic maps at Mosaik Solutions show coverage growing for LTE since the first commercial services came online at the end of 2010. Conversely, they show WiMAX coverage growing, then shrinking.

India: We Need a $100 LTE Phone

The Global TD-LTE Initiative (GTI) held an International Summit at Mobile World Congress (MWC) this week. The organization advocates cooperation among global operators around TD-LTE and the coexistence of TD-LTE and LTE FDD standards.

TDD spectrum resources are available in many countries, mainly in the 2.3 and 2.6 gigahertz bands.

China Mobile plans to install 500,000 base stations across 340 cities by the end of this year and promote the evolution to LTE-A and increase the data rate from 100M to 200M, 400M or even 1G. China Mobile hopes to commercialize VoLTE by the end of 2014 and joined forces with South Korea’s KT to launch two-way global roaming service allowing interoperability between TD-LTE and FDD-LTE.

Gopal Vittal, CEO of Bharti Airtel India’s largest mobile carrier, said what the world needed was a good $100 LTE phone. India is also using Time Division LTE, but in the 2.3-2.4 GHz band.

During the summit, GTI showcased 5-mode 13-band terminals in collaboration with its industry partners. China Mobile plans to purchase more than 100 million LTE terminals and promote smartphones supporting 5 modes and 12 or more bands.

The GTI awards recognised the successful deployment of ZTE’s Cloud Radio Solution in Chinese TD-LTE commercial networks, and ZTE’s leading position in the global TD-LTE market.

NSN won a GTI Innovation award for its “Liquid Applications”, NSN’s thrust on bringing cloud to networking.

At the heart of Liquid Applications is the NSN Radio Application Cloud Server which deploys cloud technology, running on standard IT middleware. It provides processing and storage capabilities, together with the ability to collect real-time network data.

At MWC 2014, the WiMAX Forum announced a partnership with the Global TD-LTE Initiative aimed to guarantee WiMAX Advanced is compatible with TD-LTE.

GTI has 100 operator members and 73 partners. Under the promotion of GTI, 28 commercial TD-LTE networks have been launched around the world and more than 40 operator members are planning and constructing their commercial TD-LTE networks.

Sprint Combining Virgin & Boost?

Sprint wants to introduce Nextel again — as a brand for business services, reports TechCrunch. The source tells TechCrunch that this is part of a larger branding overhaul coming in Q1 in which Sprint plans to launch a new prepaid brand called “Sprint Freedom” — merging Boost and Virgin Mobile.

The new Nextel business, says the source, will be underpinned by more service streamlining: it will be a “premium” offering consisting of the 4G fixed and mobile broadband services that were originally the Clear business. The Nextel name will replace “everything that was Clear and then target businesses.”

Ruckus is reportedly working with Sprint on a carrier WiFi strategy for enterprises.

Sprint has been preparing an offer for T-Mobile USA, after acquiring Clear and buying a portion of U.S. Cellular earlier this year, say reports.

Dish is also mulling a bid for T-Mobile, according to a Reuters report.

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