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LTE Network Buildout - A Comparison between carriers


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#1 Deval

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 09:57 AM

I didn't see a thread outlining this in this sub-section, so I figured I could start one and have some good discussion.

Being the tech sponge that I am, and my role at Sprint today, knowing the technical ins and outs of everyone's LTE network, including ours, is key.

That being said, with the collective geniuses that live on the board, can we have a dialog on each of the carriers' LTE plans, spectrum holdings, buildout model, etc.

I know Verizon is building out 10x10, with LTE rev 8 (I believe), and they are doing it per market, per site, by rolling a truck, bolting on the new equipment (base station, antenna, etc.) and leaving.

We all know what Sprint is doing with Network Vision, so what about everyone else?

Thoughts? Comments?
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#2 ericdabbs

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 10:45 AM

AT&T is also rolling out a 10x10 configuration in markets that they can thanks to the acquisition of the Qualcomm 700 MHz spectrum. Everywhere else AT&T plans to launch a 5x5 configuration at 700 MHz.

Tmobile is planning to rollout LTE in 2013 and they are planning on a 10x10 configuration on their AWS spectrum in their top 25-50 markets. I would assume for the rest of the markets it would use a 5x5 configuration.

#3 S4GRU

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 11:01 AM

AT&T is also rolling out a 10x10 configuration in markets that they can thanks to the acquisition of the Qualcomm 700 MHz spectrum. Everywhere else AT&T plans to launch a 5x5 configuration at 700 MHz.

Tmobile is planning to rollout LTE in 2013 and they are planning on a 10x10 configuration on their AWS spectrum in their top 25-50 markets. I would assume for the rest of the markets it would use a 5x5 configuration.


Also noteworthy is that AT&T is deploying no LTE in one third of the country at this moment where they have no 700 spectrum. For AT&T it roughly breaks into thirds. One third 10x10 LTE 700, one third 5x5 LTE 700 and one third no LTE 700. Presumably AT&T will try to cover that last third with LTE AWS. However, AT&T doesn't much care about that last third. Because rural and tertiary markets are of no concern of AT&T.

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#4 irev210

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 11:05 AM

AT&T is also rolling out a 10x10 configuration in markets that they can thanks to the acquisition of the Qualcomm 700 MHz spectrum. Everywhere else AT&T plans to launch a 5x5 configuration at 700 MHz.

Tmobile is planning to rollout LTE in 2013 and they are planning on a 10x10 configuration on their AWS spectrum in their top 25-50 markets. I would assume for the rest of the markets it would use a 5x5 configuration.


Qualcomm's 700MHz "Mediaflo" spectrum is unpaired. Not sure I understand the part about Qualcomm 700MHz spectrum they can roll out 10x10 config?

Fierewireless actually had a good special report on it about a year ago:

http://www.fiercebroadbandwireless.com/special-reports/carrier-aggregation-how-att-will-use-qualcomms-mediaflo-spectrum-double-lte

According to that, it is just being aggregated - and not to 700MHz B/C block due to interference issues.

#5 S4GRU

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 11:15 AM

Qualcomm's 700MHz "Mediaflo" spectrum is unpaired. Not sure I understand the part about Qualcomm 700MHz spectrum they can roll out 10x10 config?

Fierewireless actually had a good special report on it about a year ago:

http://www.fiercebro...trum-double-lte

According to that, it is just being aggregated - and not to 700MHz B/C block due to interference issues.


This is my understanding as well. The Qualcomm spectrum will not be used with their current LTE 700 deployment. It is going to be some time before AT&T can figure out how to use that with LTE Advanced.

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#6 irev210

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 11:35 AM

This is my understanding as well. The Qualcomm spectrum will not be used with their current LTE 700 deployment. It is going to be some time before AT&T can figure out how to use that with LTE Advanced.

Robert


Seems like AT&T is actually pretty screwed, at least compared to Verizon. AT&T's arrogance seemed to get the best of them when they thought they could acquire T-Mobile.

If I had to guess, AT&T will buy Dish's 40MHz S-Band for gobs of money. That's probably their best bet.

Personally, I think Sprint's spectrum position with Clearwire is probably the best in the industry, at least in the long-term. When Sprint can have Clearwire deploy all of their spectrum in small urban cells, I don't think AT&T or Verizon will be able to match that. Sprint finally can deploy their ESMR spectrum so people actually have good suburban/rural coverage, PCS spectrum will be the mix of capacity and coverage, and ERS/BRS will be the overflow in the very small percentage of square miles that has extremely dense populations (IE: major cities).

Seems like high frequency spectrum that doesn't propagate well is almost a positive in an urban environment - more opportunity to recycle spectrum and deploy more small cells - and with LTE-Advanced it should be fairly invisible to the end user. And in Urban settings, when people are in office towers, ESMR and PCS should still provide great coverage.

Edited by irev210, 17 April 2012 - 11:38 AM.


#7 Deval

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 12:28 PM

AT&T is also rolling out a 10x10 configuration in markets that they can thanks to the acquisition of the Qualcomm 700 MHz spectrum. Everywhere else AT&T plans to launch a 5x5 configuration at 700 MHz.

Tmobile is planning to rollout LTE in 2013 and they are planning on a 10x10 configuration on their AWS spectrum in their top 25-50 markets. I would assume for the rest of the markets it would use a 5x5 configuration.


Does that mean T-Mobile will repurpose their PCS holdings (which is significant), for HSPA+?
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#8 Deval

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 12:32 PM

Seems like AT&T is actually pretty screwed, at least compared to Verizon. AT&T's arrogance seemed to get the best of them when they thought they could acquire T-Mobile.

If I had to guess, AT&T will buy Dish's 40MHz S-Band for gobs of money. That's probably their best bet.

Personally, I think Sprint's spectrum position with Clearwire is probably the best in the industry, at least in the long-term. When Sprint can have Clearwire deploy all of their spectrum in small urban cells, I don't think AT&T or Verizon will be able to match that. Sprint finally can deploy their ESMR spectrum so people actually have good suburban/rural coverage, PCS spectrum will be the mix of capacity and coverage, and ERS/BRS will be the overflow in the very small percentage of square miles that has extremely dense populations (IE: major cities).

Seems like high frequency spectrum that doesn't propagate well is almost a positive in an urban environment - more opportunity to recycle spectrum and deploy more small cells - and with LTE-Advanced it should be fairly invisible to the end user. And in Urban settings, when people are in office towers, ESMR and PCS should still provide great coverage.


I have one major problem with this... Sprint's spectrum position with Clearwire which annoys me to no end. Sprint is building their own LTE network, and hopefully Clearwire will have some $$ to build theirs. If they don't, what will happen to all that spectrum?
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#9 9erHater

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 01:21 PM

Does that mean T-Mobile will repurpose their PCS holdings (which is significant), for HSPA+?


Yes, T-Mobile is going to do a network upgrade also. I don't think it's to the same lavel as Sprint, but they'll be using integrated radios on their towers.

With the spectrum they got from AT&T as part of the breakup and their own surplus PCS spectrum, they'll have about 10MHz of PCS spectrum for HSPA+. The main benefit is that they will be able to support AT&T unlocked devices with HSPA+ (like the iPhone). The T-Mobile native devices will continue to use HSPA+ on AWS. Once that refarm has been done, they'll be able to deploy 10x10 LTE in the freed AWS band.

http://www.fiercewir...rica/2012-03-01

Edited by 9erHater, 17 April 2012 - 01:24 PM.


#10 ChadBroChillz

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 01:37 PM

AT&T is also rolling out a 10x10 configuration in markets that they can thanks to the acquisition of the Qualcomm 700 MHz spectrum. Everywhere else AT&T plans to launch a 5x5 configuration at 700 MHz.

Tmobile is planning to rollout LTE in 2013 and they are planning on a 10x10 configuration on their AWS spectrum in their top 25-50 markets. I would assume for the rest of the markets it would use a 5x5 configuration.


They said they would deploy lte in the vast majority of the top 50, but I do not remember them saying how many or how much spectrum, and they only mentioned that they would deploy 20mhz in 75% of the top 25 markets.


I agree irev. I think sprint is in the best position. If they wanted to expand their coverage, they could cover large amounts of areas with less towers using their esmr, and in cities, they can configure using pcs to have more towers for better capacity.


#11 lynyrd65

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 01:41 PM

Qualcomm's 700MHz "Mediaflo" spectrum is unpaired. Not sure I understand the part about Qualcomm 700MHz spectrum they can roll out 10x10 config?

Fierewireless actually had a good special report on it about a year ago:

http://www.fiercebro...trum-double-lte

According to that, it is just being aggregated - and not to 700MHz B/C block due to interference issues.


Now this is interesting

Carrier aggregation is in the next release (of the LTE standard) and gives us the opportunity to take disparate spectrum to get a 2 x 10 spectrum configuration even if you have a split like 700 MHz and 850 MHz," explained Rinne. "MediaFLO spectrum is one-way spectrum, and we would use that aggregation capability to add that and use it from an asymmetrical standpoint.



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#12 irev210

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 01:50 PM

Now this is interesting


I just assumed that ment TD-LTE + FD-LTE via LTE-Advanced. From the sounds of it, they are doing the exact same thing Sprint is doing. The difference is, Sprint has clearwire with 150MHz+ of spectrum in the largest markets, AT&T has 6MHz nationwide and a handful of markets with 12MHz (D+E) to run TD-LTE.

I dunno, maybe I don't know AT&T's plan... but not sure what else they could do besides TD-LTE with mediaflo spectrum.

Edited by irev210, 17 April 2012 - 01:50 PM.


#13 lynyrd65

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 01:53 PM

It looked to me like they might try to do 700mhz uplink then 850 downlink as a carrier?
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#14 ericdabbs

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 01:59 PM

Does that mean T-Mobile will repurpose their PCS holdings (which is significant), for HSPA+?


Yes Tmobile is planning to repurpose most of its PCS holdings for HSPA+

#15 irev210

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 02:03 PM

It looked to me like they might try to do 700mhz uplink then 850 downlink as a carrier?


Their Cellular spectrum is already paired - wouldn't really make sense to do that?

Edited by irev210, 17 April 2012 - 02:03 PM.


#16 WiWavelength

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 02:05 PM

I just assumed that ment TD-LTE + FD-LTE via LTE-Advanced. From the sounds of it, they are doing the exact same thing Sprint is doing. The difference is, Sprint has clearwire with 150MHz+ of spectrum in the largest markets, AT&T has 6MHz nationwide and a handful of markets with 12MHz (D+E) to run TD-LTE.

I dunno, maybe I don't know AT&T's plan... but not sure what else they could do besides TD-LTE with mediaflo spectrum.


No, LTE Advanced carrier aggregation supplemental downlink should not be confused with TD-LTE; it is still entirely LTE FDD.

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#17 WiWavelength

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 02:09 PM

It looked to me like they might try to do 700mhz uplink then 850 downlink as a carrier?

Their Cellular spectrum is already paired - wouldn't really make sense to do that?


The Lower 700 MHz D/E block 6 MHz unpaired licenses cannot be used for uplink, only downlink. And Cellular 850 MHz spectrum is inherently paired -- it already has both uplink and downlink that cannot be changed. So, carrier aggregation supplemental downlink could, for example, bond Lower 700 MHz unpaired spectrum to Cellular 850 MHz downlink spectrum to form an asymmetric uplink x downlink pair (e.g. 12.5 MHz x 18.5 MHz).

AJ

#18 lynyrd65

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 02:12 PM

The Lower 700 MHz D/E block 6 MHz unpaired licenses cannot be used for uplink, only downlink. And Cellular 850 MHz spectrum is inherently paired -- it already has both uplink and downlink that cannot be changed. So, carrier aggregation supplemental downlink could, for example, bond Lower 700 MHz unpaired spectrum to Cellular 850 MHz downlink spectrum to form an asymmetric uplink x downlink pair (e.g. 12.5 MHz x 18.5 MHz).

AJ


Cool. It will be awesome to see this happen.
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#19 MacinJosh

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 02:21 PM

Does that mean T-Mobile will repurpose their PCS holdings (which is significant), for HSPA+?


T-Mobile is already rolling out HSPA+ on their PCS holdings in the west. Started late last year surprisingly.

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#20 WiWavelength

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 02:24 PM

They said they would deploy lte in the vast majority of the top 50, but I do not remember them saying how many or how much spectrum, and they only mentioned that they would deploy 20mhz in 75% of the top 25 markets.


In my opinion, T-Mobile is a bit too optimistic. The PCS 1900 MHz from GSM to W-CDMA will not come easily nor quickly, especially in 20 MHz PCS markets, such as New York, Los Angeles, Boston, etc. And T-Mobile still has numerous top 50 markets where it has no spectrum in which to deploy LTE. In short, T-Mobile still needs many years and more spectrum -- particularly AWS 2100+1700 MHz spectrum, as the T-Mobile-Leap transaction is just a band aid -- to pull this off.

See my established work on T-Mobile top 100 market spectrum holdings:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ArY31Mr219-ydG15eGR2aTR3ZDJ4ZW5GSGhza0FUQnc
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ArY31Mr219-ydDQwQjNrR0R5eGlYV1FRQzhMd1gzMmc
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ArY31Mr219-ydE92UVdnR3JGTlpPZWtYdk9pcGFYb1E

AJ




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