Sprint to cover 100M POPs with 2.5Ghz LTE by the end of 2014


According to Fierce Wireless Sprint will be launching 2.5Ghz LTE by the end of 2014. This frequency was originally used on the older 4G WiMAX frequencies and will be repurposed as additional LTE frequency so they can have additional spectrum between 700Mhz, 1900Mhz and 2.5Ghz 4G LTE. Right now Sprint has 230 markets covered with 4G LTE and plans to cover 200 million POPs by the end of 2013 on their existing 1.9Ghz LTE frequency. When Sprint launches 2.5Ghz LTE they will have the fastest LTE network available capable of 50-60Mbps on an unloaded cell in their tests. Right now Verizon covers 301 million POPs with LTE and is also deploying AWS spectrum, but even the AWS bands don’t have as much available spectrum as Sprint does giving them a possible long term advantage. For now most Sprint customers with LTE can expect to see an average of 6-8Mbps download.


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Sprint Spark

 

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), October 30, 2013 - Sprint (NYSE:S) demonstrated live today 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) over-the-air speed at its lab near Silicon Valley, Calif. This was the highlight of a day that showcased the innovation and what’s possible on the Sprint network as the company unveiled technology with the potential to surpass wireless speeds of any U.S. network provider.

Named Sprint Spark, the super-high-speed capability demonstrates 50-60 Megabits per second (Mbps) peak speeds today with increasing speed potential over time. Given Sprint’s spectrum and technology assets, it is technically feasible to deliver more than 2Gbps per sector of over-the-air speed.

“Sprint Spark is a combination of advanced capabilities, like 1x, 2x and 3x carrier aggregation for speed, 8T8R for coverage, MIMO for capacity, TDD for spectral efficiency, together with the most advanced devices offering both tri-band capability and high-definition voice for the best possible customer experience,” said Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint.

Sprint plans to deploy Sprint Spark in about 100 of America’s largest cities during the next three years, with initial availability in five markets today. Sprint 4G LTE service will be available by mid-2014 to approximately 250 million Americans, and Sprint expects 100 million Americans will have Sprint Spark or 2.5GHz coverage by the end of 2014. The first markets with limited availability are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Tampa and Miami. The first smartphones with Sprint Spark capability are scheduled for customer availability in early November.

How Sprint Spark works

Sprint Spark combines 4G FDD1-LTE at 800 Megahertz (MHz) and 1.9 Gigahertz (GHz) and TDD1-LTE at 2.5GHz spectrum, TDD-LTE technology (2.5GHz), and carrier aggregation in the 2.5GHz band. These spectrum assets, technology and architecture are designed to deliver a seamless customer experience via tri-band wireless devices. Tri-band devices, named for their ability to accommodate multiple spectrum bands, support active hand-off mode between 800MHz, 1.9GHz and 2.5GHz, providing data session continuity as the device moves between spectrum bands.

Sprint Spark components

Sprint is building the Sprint Spark capability using a unique combination of spectrum capacity and network technologies. Today the company has approximately 55,000 macro cell sites; a level Sprint expects staying at for the next few years. The company also anticipates using small cells to augment capacity, coverage and speed. Small cell deployment is expected to begin in 2014, continuing into 2015 and beyond.

Radio heads

A key ingredient enabling Sprint Spark is equipment compatibility with the architecture of the Sprint initiative known as Network Vision. Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Solutions and Networks and Samsung have been selected to provide 2.5GHz radio heads and to enable Sprint Spark. Each company will service approximately one-third of Sprint’s deployment markets. These 2.5GHz radios are expected to have capabilities for 8 Transmitters 8 Receivers (8T8R), which will be a first deployment of its kind in North America. These radios will be capable of improved coverage, capacity and speeds when compared to the more traditional 2T2R or 4T4R radios used by our competitors.

Devices

Sprint Spark comes to life for customers via their devices. Building on Network Vision’s multimode capability, Sprint Spark is designed to accommodate all of Sprint’s spectrum bands on a single device. These tri-band smartphones are designed to give users the best experience by transparently shifting from one band to another, depending on such factors as location or type of application. The first tri-band devices will be available to customers in the next few weeks and offered by HTC, LG and Samsung.

How it will be used

Sprint Spark provides the capacity to greatly improve the performance of video and other bandwidth-intensive applications while opening the way for futuristic applications. Today, wireless networks and smartphones can book flights, locate children, store photos and music, video chat and much more. Sprint Spark supports a new generation of online gaming, virtual reality, advanced cloud services and other applications requiring very high bandwidth. (See how applications like these could shape future lifestyles – “Vision of Connected Mobile Lifestyle.”)

Sprint’s new 4G LTE network is a key component of its Network Vision program. Sprint 4G LTE now covers 230 markets across the nation and is on track to serve 200 million people by the end of this year and 250 million people by mid-2014. While both LTE technologies bring significant enhancements in network speed, the 2.5GHz spectrum is crucial to the exceptional capacity, speed and flexibility expected with Sprint Spark.

Also through Network Vision, Sprint is upgrading its 3G services with all-new equipment to bring users improved coverage, better signal strength, fewer dropped calls and improved voice quality. The Network Vision 3G capability includes High Definition Voice to make HD calls Sprint’s new standard for voice quality. HD Voice is a next-generation technology for mobile phones where background noise is virtually eliminated and sound quality is dramatically enhanced. Sprint’s HD Voice offering reaches approximately 85 million people across the Sprint network today, and the company expects 250 million to have access to HD Voice capability by mid-2014. Sprint expects 12 million HD Voice devices in the customer base by the end of 2013, growing to 20 million by the end of 2014.

In addition to demonstrating the 1Gbps speeds via over-the-air wireless, Sprint has also extended its leadership in wireline speeds by commercially deploying one of the longest 100Gbps circuits in the United States. That live transmission required no signal regeneration over a distance of 2,100 km, or 1,304 miles.

 

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Sprint launches 45 more 4G LTE markets


OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (BUSINESS WIRE), October 29, 2013 - Sprint (NYSE:S) today turned on 4G LTE service in 45 more markets to provide an enhanced customer experience with faster data speeds in more places where customers use their mobile device to access the Internet, upload photos, watch videos, and check social networking sites.

Today’s announcement also signals a major expansion of enhanced 3G service, improving coverage, signal strength and call quality. The new 4G LTE service is also now available in parts of Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island, N.Y. Earlier this year, Sprint launched its all-new network in Brooklyn and the Bronx. Below is an official list of new markets to offer Sprint LTE coverage:

Abilene, Texas; Adrian, Mich; Albany/Corvallis, Ore; Ardmore, Okla; Athens, Texas; Auburn/Opelika, Ala; Cape Coral/Fort Myers, Fla; Clovis, N.M.; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Columbia/Ellicott City, Md; Eagle Pass, Texas; Elizabethtown, KY; Farmington, MO; Fort Polk South, La; Fort Smith, Ark; Frankfort, Ky; Greenville/Mauldin/Easley, S.C.; Greenwood, S.C.; Jacksonville, Texas; Janesville, Wis; Jefferson City, Mo; Kirksville, MO; Lafayette, La; Lakeland/Winter Haven, Fla; Laurel, Miss; Lexington, Ky; Martha’s Vineyard, Mass; Milledgeville, Ga; Naples, Fla; New Haven, Conn; Odessa, Texas; Paris, Texas; Pensacola, Fla; Picayune, Miss; Red Bluff, Calif; Rolla, Mo; Santa Ana/Anaheim, Calif; Spokane, Wash; Stevens Point, Wis; Tallahassee, Fla; Texarkana, Texas - Texarkana, Ark, Tyler, Texas; Valdosta, Ga, Warner Robins, Ga and Waycross, Ga.

 

Peplink Balance 2500 now available


Last month Peplink gave a teaser preview of the new Balance 2500 series designed to serve as a central hub to support several remote offices and remote equipment. This unit has up to 8Gbps routing throughput, is designed to support up to 20,000+ simultaneous users and supports up to 4,000 SpeedFusion or PepVPN peers. The Balance 2500 series is now available for order and could be the perfect solution for a larger enterprise company, campus, industrial or government deployments. As of today (10/29/2013) the Balance 2500 has roughly a 2-3 week lead time so be sure to order now if you need a high end box designed to support your growing company.

 

T-Mobile iPad Air gets 200MB free data


Recently Apple announced the new iPad Air, which supports a wide array of cellular frequencies. Unlike Verizon, Sprint and AT&T, T-Mobile will be giving customers up to 200MB of free data per month. Verizon customers are looking at a minimum of $20/mo for 1GB, AT&T customers can get 250MB for $14.99 and Sprint offers 1GB for $14.99/mo. Plans continue to go up from there but offering some free data could give T-Mobile a big advantage for customers looking for low data usage. Most carriers on the high end offer between 5-6GB for $50/mo and we’d suggest checking out a Millenicom MiFi that offers 20GB of data for $69.99/mo to pair with your iPad Air. Unlike the iPad data package MiFi devices will allow you to share with more devices so one data plan could get all your portable devices online.

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Virgin Mobile removes unlimited and sets hard data caps


A few years ago Virgin Mobile entered the mobile data space touting unlimited data for customers. Just like any wireless service “unlimited” wasn’t actually unlimited and customers found they were getting throttled down to near dial up speeds after hitting 2.5GB of data in a month. Virgin Mobile has recently changed their plans completely removing an unlimited option and now offer 250MB, 1.5GB or 6GB plans. By removing their unlimited packages this Sprint MVNO could see subscribers drop now that their plans are very comparable to Verizon and AT&T who have substantially better wireless coverage across the country. Sprint appears to be killing off MVNO’s offering unlimited because recently Millenicom’s Sprint based unlimited service was killed off too.

 

The Verizon AWS 4G LTE Speed Myth explained

Over the past few days several tech blogs published news that Verizon Wireless launched AWS LTE (Band 4 1700/2100Mhz)  in New York City and Los Angeles California. Accompanying these articles were screen shots of speedtests where users were getting 80Mbps download and 15-25Mbps upload. What a lot of people don’t realize is the speeds reflected on these tests aren’t 100% accurate and will change as more devices become “Band 4” AWS enabled. For example look back to when 4G LTE originally launched and only a few handsets offered the capability, users were posting speeds upwards of 60Mbps download and 20-30Mbps upload.

After more and more devices became LTE enabled speeds started to be reduced to the original quoted average of 5-12Mbps download and 2-5Mbps upload. In high traffic areas where Verizon doesn’t have enough 700Mhz spectrum available to provide the average speeds customers expect they’ll be adding the AWS LTE spectrum. The additional spectrum will allow devices to connect to either Band 13 (700Mhz LTE) or Band 4 (1700/2100Mhz AWS LTE) based on tower load.

To put this in simple terms think of a 2 lane highway vs. a 4 lane highway. In most smaller cities a 2 lane highway is enough, but in larger cities you’ll often see 4 or more lane highways. This is designed because more people live in these areas and more traffic passes through these points. AWS LTE is the equivalent to turning that 2 lane highway into a 4 or more lane highway for larger cities where additional capacity is needed. Right now in New York City and Los Angeles customers are able to show 80Mbps speeds because only a few devices are on the network, but when more devices update to band 4 the “traffic lanes” will slow down back to the average 5-12Mbps down and 2-5Mbps upload.

Most sites are confusing this speed for something that will be seen down the road when LTE-Advanced gets released in a few years. The LTE-Advanced network has a much higher throughput rating than current LTE and when that launches down the road people will see average speeds increase substantially. The new AWS LTE bands are still running the same LTE technology, just on a different frequency and doesn’t offer any additional throughput, just more overhead for larger markets.

What data devices have band 4 AWS enabled?

At this time the only data only device that supports Band 4 is the Pantech UML295. Verizon released an OTA (Over the air) update today to support the AWS band. For customers already using UML295 modems in a router you’ll need to insert your USB modem into a computer to pull down the AWS LTE support update. In the coming weeks both the 291 Orbit and MiFi 5510L hotspots will receive this update too, but currently don’t support AWS LTE. Older devices like the Pantech UML290, USB551L etc will not receive an update for band 4 support, but will still function as normal on the standard 700Mhz Band 13 LTE network. If you do have a device that supports the AWS band, like the Pantech UML295, and you happen to be in an area that is using the new AWS band, you may temporarily see better speeds since there aren't as many devices using that part of Verizon's network yet. Eventually, though, everything will even out and Verizon's 700mhz network and AWS network will average out to provide the same speeds.
 


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