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Sprint Senior Vice President of Networks Bob Azzi.  (Source:
Sprint in the midst of network modernization project

According to Fierce Wireless, Sprint will be closely monitoring the adoption rate of its high-speed WiMAX service, evaluating the best use of its spectrum, before deciding whether or not to focus on LTE in the future. 

Sprint is currently working in partnership with Alcatel-Lucent, Samsung, and Ericsson on a $4 to $5 billion network modernization plan called Network Vision, to be undertaken over the next three to five years.  

At Network Vision's core is a plan to deploy a multi-use base station for greater technology flexibility. "The new multi-mode base stations will be smaller allowing the entire footprint of the cell site to be reduced," Fierce Wireless reports, "which means that less power will be required at the cell site." 

The upgrade is largely a cost-saving measure. In addition to the base station, Sprint also plans on deploying CDMA 1x Advanced, which Sprint Senior Vice President of Networks Bob Azzi said will reduce per-minute costs and provide an estimated 20 to 40 percent improvement in capacity and performance. Backhaul will be upgraded from T1s to a combination of microwave and Ethernet fiber. 

Meanwhile, Verizon announced yesterday that it would launch its 4G LTE network across the wider Detroit market tomorrow, covering some 80 percent of the metropolitan area. 

The expansion to nearly 70 suburban municipalities is the first since Verizon launched its LTE service back in December. Though a few areas in and around Detroit were covered then, most of the area experienced spectrum interference with a Canadian TV station. This issue has been resolved, thus allowing the significant early expansion.

"Metro Detroit: Welcome to the future," John Granby, president of the Michigan/Indiana/Kentucky Region for Verizon Wireless, said in a press release. Little did he know, Detroit was already making strides into the future, with a thus far wildly successful fundraising campaign to erect a statue of RoboCop.

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IF Sprint moves to LTE...
By Shadowself on 2/16/2011 8:40:10 AM , Rating: 3
Admittedly a HUGE IF...

Sprint dropping WiMax would basically be an admission that WiMax has issues for highly mobile, high data rate communications.

Also this would make all the major players in the U.S. supporting LTE. In theory this could make handsets simpler and cheaper moving forward. There already exists a chip in the labs that can support both major 3G implementations and LTE. Making that chip smaller/less power hungry/etc. could be the focus for the chip designers rather than trying to implement two 3G standards and two "4G" standards in a single chip.

And what's with T1 backhaul from the towers? Even the 3G implementations can more than saturate a T1 with a single smartphone doing a data download. Anyone using T1 lines as their primary interface to their towers is just out of it. Hopefully this statement is wrong and they meant T3.

RE: IF Sprint moves to LTE...
By GeekWithFire on 2/16/2011 9:02:14 AM , Rating: 3
It would seem logical that multiple T1's are used.

RE: IF Sprint moves to LTE...
By mcnabney on 2/16/2011 10:17:11 AM , Rating: 2
They currently use 1 or more T1s. Their WiMax supporting towers could make use of a T3, but I am going to guess that they are underserving those towers by providing less-than-adequate backhaul in order to save money. It makes sense because they don't have 'that many' 4G customers, so perhaps their 4G services are highly underutilized. It is hard to make guesses toward motive when you know that Sprint doesn't actually run their own network - Sony/Ericsson does. They advise on it, but the actual running of it is outsourced.

Verizon has fiber at their towers and AT&T uses fiber in their urban/suburban HSPA+ areas.

LTE requires fiber because it is being used to provide almost 400MBs at each tower.

RE: IF Sprint moves to LTE...
By protosv on 2/16/2011 1:34:53 PM , Rating: 2
True they don't have too many 4G customers now, but since they recently hiked EVERYONE's smartphone plan by $10, even the 3G data plans, there's really no financial incentive to stay on a 3G device if you're upgrading phones. So I'd expect that the majority of their upgrades/new smartphone customers in the near future and beyond will be 4G devices...

RE: IF Sprint moves to LTE...
By mcnabney on 2/17/2011 9:14:13 AM , Rating: 2
Sprint is still losing almost a BILLION dollars every quarter. They finally stopped losing customers, but they NEED to charge more or eventually people will stop loaning them money to go deeper and deeper in debt.

RE: IF Sprint moves to LTE...
By TheRequiem on 2/16/2011 9:10:28 AM , Rating: 5
There are multiple incorrect statements here, but I'll only touch on one... The only reason Sprint would consider a switch to LTE is not because WiMAX is a lesser technology, it really isn't... it would simply be because LTE has more industry support from handset manufacturer's and chip maker's. Which also leads to about the only correct statement from you and that is the fact it would reduce costs and cross-compatibility for both the carriers and user's.

RE: IF Sprint moves to LTE...
By mcnabney on 2/16/11, Rating: 0
RE: IF Sprint moves to LTE...
By DanNeely on 2/16/2011 11:19:53 AM , Rating: 5
Can you believe it, the end of 'minutes' is coming?

No I can't. Just because they're sending voice over LTE to save power doesn't mean they can't charge a premium for it over other forms of data.

RE: IF Sprint moves to LTE...
By mcnabney on 2/17/2011 9:11:36 AM , Rating: 2
I think they will end up using a per/GB model.

Just like any other utility. Get a family share with 20GB and use it however you want - talking, picture messaging, watching movies, browsing the web, or online games. So $5-10 per device and per GB after that. Seems fair.

RE: IF Sprint moves to LTE...
By DanNeely on 2/17/2011 10:55:17 AM , Rating: 2
That's what I'd like to see, but I find it highly unlikely that they'd be willing to give up the cash cow that voice plans are becoming. Especially if you look at unlimited voice on large family plans (ie 4 or 5 phones). I don't see that cash cow being killed short of being forced to by Congress or the FCC; and unfortunately the Republican controlled house appears to be in the wireless companies pocket.

"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs
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