Posts Tagged ‘CDMA’

What Will Sprint Do with Vacated iDEN Spectrum?

Sunday, March 20th, 2011
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It has been clear since the first quarter of 2010 that Sprint had other plans for use of the spectrum that currently supports the iDEN network for Nextel. See http://community.sprint.com/baw/message/175739. Later in 2010 Sprint began to talk about putting some CDMA (3G) services into the vacated iDEN spectrum. See http://www.bgr.com/2010/10/27/dan-hesse-sprint-will-eventually-shutdown-iden-network/.

Sprint has been talking about adding Long Term Evolution support as well, but it is not clear whether it will use some or all of the vacated iDEN spectrum for LTE. The original grant of iDEN frequencies were in the land mobile area, and typically the amount of spectrum is not overly generous, as the original application was not bandwidth intensive. See http://www.ntia.doc.gov/osmhome/allochrt.pdf.

The iDEN network uses the 806 MHz to 824 MHz and 851 MHz to 869 MHz bands, meaning there is 18 MHz in total available for outbound and 18 MHz available for inbound communications. LTE tends to operate in either 10 MHz or 20 MHz channels, and the wider the channel the faster the speed. That means Sprint could, in principle, replace iDEN with LTE in the 800 MHz spectrum once it decommissions the older iDEN network.

Of course, there is business logic for pushing low-bandwidth CDMA traffic into the iDEN bands, especially voice and mesaging, since these apps don’t use much bandwidth. That would free up more bandwidth on the 3G network. On the other hand, there also is logic to creating a new LTE network using all of the 18 MHz spectrum, which would allow building of a very-fast LTE network.

Sprint already is replacing its current infrastructure, supporting three different networks with three sets of radio gear, into a single set of radios that can support all the frequencies Sprint uses, including the 800-MHz iDEN, 1.9 GHz CDMA and 2.5 GHz WiMAX networks.  See http://newsroom.sprint.com/press_kits.cfm?presskit_id=19.

On the other hand, there also is the possibility that the 2.5 GHz band, which has spare bandwidth not in commercial use, also could be used to support LTE. That would require a matching decision by Clearwire to adopt LTE in some of the 2.5 GHz band, but is not inconceivable, either.

The advantage of putting low-bandwidth services such as voice into the vacated 800-MHz spectrum is the superior in-building reception.


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Sprint Announces First Fruit of New Multi-Mode Network

Thursday, March 17th, 2011
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Sprint announced plans to expand its push-to-talk feature more broadly on its 3G CDMA network in the fourth quarter of 2011. As part of the launch, Sprint will offer an initial set of handsets with features designed for workgroups that rely on push-to-talk. Sprint also is launching a new push-to-talk brand called “Sprint Direct Connect.”

Sprint Direct Connect service is described by Sprint as a tangible benefit of Network Vision, Sprint’s blueprint to deploy a revamped network capable of supporting CDMA, WiMAX and LTE from a single set of base stations. Network Vision is expected to “consolidate multiple network technologies into one seamless network” with better coverage, quality and speed; better network flexibility; reduced operating costs; and improved environmental sustainability, Sprint says. See http://newsroom.sprint.com/news/sprint-announces-network-vision-network-evolution-plan.htm.

Sprint’s $5 billion network modernization program might also save the company a huge amount of money: possibly $10 billion to $11 billion over seven years. That would be reason enough to pursue the upgrade. will decrease the number of the carrier’s cell sites from 66,000 to 46,000, the company’s CFO has said.

More important are the potential strategic options, such as allowing Sprint the ability to deploy its own Long Term Evolution network, on its own facilities and using its owned spectrum, instead of relying on Clearwire facilities, even though Sprint owns 54 percent of Clearwire.


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Sprint to Add LTE to CDMA Network?

Saturday, February 19th, 2011
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Neither Sprint nor Clearwire executives have been too shy about saying they both could switch to Long Term Evolution for fourth-generation services, rather than using the WiMAX platform. In fact, if either firm wants to benefit from LTE ecosystem experience curves, they would have to. It is a foregone conclusion that the LTE ecosystem, from base station solutions to handsets, is going to eclipse the WiMAX ecosystem in relatively short order.

But network transitions of that sort can be messy in the interim, as the operator has to continue to support existing users and devices that operate on the older platform, while adding new users to the next-generation platform. If Sprint intends to shift to LTE on its fully-owned spectrum, that means adding LTE to the network now running CDMA.

Clearwire has other options, as it can light a separate LTE network alongside its existing WiMAX network.

In an interim period, while lots of users continue to use CDMA gear, Sprint would likely introduce new devices that support both CDMA and LTE. There are some cost considerations, but it is an approach mobile operators and suppliers are quite familiar with.

That move would need to be made at some point even as Sprint continues to use Clearwire facilities, as the CDMA network itself will have to be entirely replaced at some point by a 4G solution.

Sprint Looks Poised to Enter an LTE Future – PCWorld


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