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Sprint Offers LTE Progress Report

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Deadline = Other Carriers Advantage

by rwalford79    Oct 30, 2013, 12:18 PM

Sprint's own deadline of Mid-2014 for PCS LTE is terrible. Do they mean D-Block PCS which is already running poorly, with limited coverage, limited signal strength, low data speeds and proves to be worthless, often times slower than EVDO data....or do they mean as a whole, all blocks of PCS spectrum they own?

Mid-2014 is also the time when T-Mobile and Verizon have set to start deploying LTE-Advanced features (maybe not the full set of standard, but most of the features), so Sprint already will be even further behind.

On top of all this, Sprint's focus on spectrum bands that there are not even devices, only upsets the jaded and neglected customers like myself, with PCS-ONLY LTE devices who are are unwilling and unable to upgrade with long term contracts if the network we are able to access (hint, I have never been able to access LTE in my deployed city), has yet to be proven to work. With PCS LTE deployment nationwide, yet receiving little to no actual signal or LTE service, you would be hard pressed to find any Sprint customer willing to dive back into the same mess a second or third time when it comes to Sprint's promises of 4G in any flavor.

800ESMR will not help Sprint anymore than 1900 D-Block has helped Sprint deploy LTE. In fact, it would hinder them severely as the spectrum only allots 5x5 LTE configuration, the exact same as PCS currently holds. The speed will be no different, if anything it will be slightly slower due to the lower frequency properties not carrying as much data. While I can get EVDO over PCS fine inside buildings, I cant seem to get LTE over PCS inside buildings (I rarely get it outside too), leaving me to believe that 800 even with its penetration properties, will produce sub par speeds but give a slight advantage over PCS for indoor coverage, albeit, a rather weak faint signal indoors.

With the 2.5Ghz Clearwire spectrum, it was recently announced that Sprint will need 12-15 cell sites to match the coverage that ONE SINGLE 700Mhz cell site can on Verizon or AT&T. That means Sprint will be spending 12-15x more money to cover the same amount of space, and offer the same quality data connectivity to users. Sprint and Softbank not being exactly financially set right now (Softbank stock has dropped drastically on the Sprint merger), means they will only deploy 5,000 of the 80,000 cell sites needed to actually have a working 2.5Ghz LTE network that could match the current coverage area of EVDO on Sprint. 5,000 cell sites is equal to "just the nations largest cities" - think NYC, Chicago, LA, Dallas, Boston, Baltimore, Atlanta, and very few outside those.

Either way you look at it, with extremely limited coverage, no devices to take advantage, no courtesy discounts or bonus upgrade options for current customers to relieve frustration of their crappy network skills thus far, you may find that Sprint will sell off vast spectrum assets and limit their coverage and deployment of LTE by 2014 contrary to their own statement. With LTE-A being deployed by the 3 bigger carriers (T-Mobile coverage is physically bigger than Sprint LTE and Sprint WiMAX now), by the time Sprint completes its LTE network, it will be outdated as the others will be working on 100Mbps speeds, while Sprint sits for another 2-5 years working on LTE-A and desperately seeking a way to make 40-60mbps speeds standard on their lower frequencies, like all the other carriers can.

Point here is, Sprint is in a really bad place. The SoftBank merger did not do it many more favors. In fact, it could have made it worse as it opened a door for Sprint to lollygag on the deployment of 1900 A-G blocks and 800 as a whole and put its focus on "Yay, Clearwire!" - Spectrum that is not worth deploying just yet. It has already cost Sprint millions of customers, billions in revenue and nearly bankrupted the new company.

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