by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 12:02 PM MDT
The next market in our Network Vision/LTE deployment schedule update series is the City by the Bay...San Francisco. The SF Bay market has yet to be announced by Sprint, but is the only First Round market to not yet start deployment.
The Sprint SF Bay market encompasses all of the Northern San Francisco Bay Area, including the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Solano. This includes the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Fremont, Concord, Walnut Creek, Pleasanton, Livermore, San Ramon, Antioch, Brentwood, Hayward, Berkeley, Vallejo, Fairfield, Vacaville, Richmond, Napa, San Rafael, Novato, Santa Rosa, Sonoma, San Mateo, Daly City and Palo Alto.
Samsung is scheduled to finally start mobilizing with their subcontractors in this market next month and get things moving. The first completed Network Vision sites are will likely start coming online in September. There was a lot of anticipation that this market would start around the times of the other First Round markets. However, S4GRU discovered there were issues early in this market as the start dates for sites pushed out to summer pretty early in Network Vision. It just plain takes longer to get started in a market like Northern California with all of the bureaucratic red tape, planning and zoning requirements and approvals. And the issues Samsung has encountered in Chicago are likely to have played role in the push back too.
SF Bay Market Launch
It was Sprint's original plan to launch markets when they reached 50% of sites converted to Network Vision. However, it has now been determined that Sprint will move up launches sooner than 50% completion in several markets. This is likely to maintain a Mid 2012 launch in markets that have already been announced. However, in an unannounced market like San Francisco, we don't know if they will resume pushing back market launches to 50%, or if they will now settle on a 40% completion to be the new normal for market launches.
If Sprint waits for 50% completion to launch this market, it would make the launch approximately February (should the OEM stay on schedule). If they plan on a 40% market completion for launch, that would be January. You may think that 40% - 50% site completion is not enough to launch LTE service, but it would provide pretty good coverage. Even Verizon doesn't launch on all sites in a market initially. Usually less than 50%, then filling in with more and more sites every few months.
Anticipated Sites Complete at Market Launch. According to the Network Vision schedules that S4GRU has reviewed, if Sprint launched the market in January, these are the anticipated sites that would likely have LTE complete at that time. This would provide fairly good LTE coverage over many parts of the market.
Schedule details and the bottom line
We currently do not have a date that Sprint will formally "launch" LTE service in the Bay Area. It is difficult to try to pick a date now this far out, but we will take a stab at it. In looking at the schedule as of today, it would indicate a January market launch (going on a 40% - 50% completion for launch). But there is no way to know if Samsung and their subcontractors will actually hit their schedule dates this early in the deployment for this market. We will be able to gauge better after a few months of production.
Samsung will need to hit a production rate of 75 sites per month to stay on schedule. If properly prepared and equipped and if backhaul is ready timely, this market shouldn't have any problems staying on time to this schedule. But this is very dependent on whether the market will indeed start in August.
S4GRU has examined the schedule in great detail in this market and sees that most of the sites will be complete by July 2013. However, there may be a few sporadic sites that will linger past the completion.
Photo of the Bay Bridge provided courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.