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Sprint Pins Network Strategy On 'HPUE' Technology

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Dec 13, 2016, 3:00 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   @zeman_e

Sprint today detailed a new technology called High Performance User Equipment that promises to improve the behavior of its 2.5 GHz spectrum in terms of capacity, speed, and range. HPUE is a modem-level technology that ushers in a new power class for mobile phones, called Power Class 2. In its simplest form, HPUE-capable phones can speak louder from the cell edge so the cell tower hears them. Despite the higher broadcasting output, Sprint says there are power efficiencies involved that allow HPUE to work without killing device batteries. It involves the modem, power amplifier, filter, software, and processor all working together to manage power output in the appropriate spectrum. The 3GPP approved the HPUE standard on Dec. 6. Sprint already has a wide range of partners helping it with the technology, including Qualcomm and MediaTek on the processor side, Broadcom and Skyworks on the amplifier side, and Samsung, ZTE, LG, HTC, Motorola, and Alcatel on the consumer device side. HPUE is independent from 3xCA (which Sprint is deploying now), but plays well with carrier aggregation and other technologies such as MIMO to improve capacity and speed. Combining HPUE, 3xCA, 256 QAM, and MIMO can deliver 1 Gbps speeds, according to Sprint, though that package won't be available for some time. HPUE relies on attributes of TDD-LTE and is specific to Band 41 spectrum. Other carriers with and 41, including China Mobile and Sprint parent SoftBank, are looking at the technology, too. Once deployed, Sprint expects a single HPUE-enabled 2.5 GHz cell tower will be able to cover approximately the same geographical area as a 1.9 GHz cell tower with similar speed characteristics. The actual improvement in geographical coverage is about 30% more than a 2.5 GHz cell tower could cover on its own without HPUE. Sprint will begin deploying HPUE cell sites and devices (including an unannounced Galaxy flagship handset from Samsung) in 2016, and expects 55% of its handsets to support HPUE by the end of 2017. In the meantime, Sprint will continue to expand the availability of 3xCA devices and markets.

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