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Spectrum Blog

Sprint Exits H Block Auction, Why?, timing... Wed, Nov 13, 2013

Although it surprised the wireless industry a bit, it does make sense that Sprint saw a declining value in the H block spectrum.  Acquiring that spectrum would have allowed Sprint to expand their primary LTE Channel from a 5x5 channel to a 10x10 channel. In terms of Mbps, from 37 Mbps per sector to 73 Mbps per sector.  If this could be added to the network today, it would bring Sprint to about par with the other 3 national carriers.  The problem is timing.  It will be mid-2014 before the spectrum will be awarded to the auction winner, but prior to receiving the spectrum, the high bidder could start the 18-24 month process to get the LTE band classifications changed.  Sprint would either have expanded the frequencies for their band 25 or requested a new band classification that would include all of the old PCS block, the PCS G block, and the PCS H block.  With the standards body work, including carrier aggregation, it would likely by early 2016 before network upgrades would begin.  This coincides with their forecasted completion of Project Spark.  If Sprint completes this project on-time, they will have 38,000 sites that will be enabled with 40MHz of 2.5GHz spectrum, which could be a game changer.  This does seem to signal that Sprint doesn't think their PCS G LTE is particularly strategic.

Sprint Small Cells (Not Small Cells) Thu, Dec 27, 2012

Sprint Small Cells - Light Reading

Above is a link to a Light Reading interview with Sprint VP of Network Development and Engineering Iyad Tarazi. The hot topic in wireless is small cells.  Clearly the carriers are blurring the definitions of small cells to demonstrate that they have a large installed base or are significantly down the road for new network installations.  From Iyad's interview, Sprint has over 500,000 femto cells providing primarily indoor coverage enhancements to customer residences.  These are using the customer's broadband service for connectivity and do not support handover of voice or data calls.  (Calls drop as you leave home and need to be re-originated on the carrier network.  Iyad describes the small cell developments for their LTE coverage.  It is not stated, but it is likely that this development is only for their PCS G frequency block, not Clearwires forthcoming LTE.  In addition, I would challenge whether they meet the definition for small cells.  Sprint is continuing down the path of a non-network integrated coverage device.  Whether installed in a small business or a residence, the products Iyad described are not integrated with Sprint's macro network, do not provide interference protection to that network, and will not hand over voice or data calls over without dropping the connections.  This is really no improvement to providing WiFi coverage and is deceptive to include in the small cell discussion where a prerequisite should be to provide seamless integration with the macro network.  What Sprint has solved for their version of the "small cell" is the impact of providing cost effective backhaul connectivity to the small cell.  In all of the cases that Sprint has developed a "small cell" product, they are utilizing the customers backhaul facility for connectivity.  To get true integration with their carrier/macro network, Sprint will need to provide and pay for backhaul to their facilities for small cells.

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