by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Thursday, June 7, 2012 - 9:14 PM MDT
In our continuing Network Vision/LTE deployment schedule update series, S4GRU would like to bring you up to speed in San Antonio, Texas. Sprint announced to the world early in Network Vision that the San Antonio market would be one of their first LTE launches. Dan Hesse announced that we can expect it to be launched by Mid 2012.
Since the announcement last December, Sprint's Network Vision OEM Ericsson has been steadily deploying around San Antonio and environs. As of this week, the are more than 30 Network Vision sites broadcasting a LTE signal. These sites are all around the market.
Network Vision Sites in San Antonio. Over 30 sites are complete in the market.
All of these broadcasting Sprint LTE, but being blocked from accessibility by Sprint.
30 Live LTE Sites, but still being blocked by Sprint
Despite the good news of these live LTE sites, Sprint is still actively blocking LTE connections. They originally planned to allow sites converted to Network Vision standards to go live immediately upon completion by the OEM Contractor. This is still the case with 3G EVDO and even CDMA 800 sites when they are completed. In Sprint's original Network Vision plans, they were also planning to allow 4G LTE signals to be handled the same way. Turn them on and allow them to be discovered prior to the formal market launch at 50% site completion.
Market Launch and Remaining Schedule
In recently seen correspondence, Sprint has decided to move up launches sooner than 50% completion. This is likely to maintain a Mid 2012 launch in San Antonio. If they waited for 50% now, it would delay launch until August. In the case of San Antonio, should Sprint launch prior to the end of June, they would only be complete with approximately 35% to 40% of all NV sites. This doesn't sound like a lot, but it would provide pretty good coverage. A little known item is not even Verizon launches 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 on June 30th, these are the
anticipated sites that would have LTE complete at that time. This would provide pretty good
LTE coverage over the market.
At market launch, some areas will be well covered with LTE, and others may be kind of spotty. However, more sites will come online every week until the whole market is complete. And even with one or two bars of LTE signal on your device, you will still get speeds that are double to triple that of well performing 3G EVDO in most instances.
And speaking of 3G EVDO, Sprint is not reporting any of these live Network Vision sites are currently broadcasting EVDO, only LTE. According to the NV schedule, these should have started coming online in May. However, none have shown up as NV 3G active to date. We know the new backhaul is in place at these sites since they are broadcasting LTE. That most likely means that the Switch Center is not ready for these sites. A huge backlog of 3G sites will probably come online in this market suddenly when the network is ready.
The bottom line...
We currently do not have a date that Sprint will formally "launch" the San Antonio market. We believe they are still targeting a launch date before the end of the month based on internal Sprint documents. However, we hope that they will actually remove LTE blocking before the launch, since there are quite a few active LTE sites that can be used now in this market.
Sprint's Network Vision schedule for this market currently has 32 Network Vision sites complete. Ericsson is plotting continual progress from here with production ramping up to a rate of almost 40 sites per month. S4GRU has poured over the schedule in this market and sees an October 2012 completion date. In our estimation of the schedule, it appears that Ericsson is behind in the market. However a production rate of 40 sites per month is achievable, but a much greater pace will need to start to occur in June to see this to conclusion.
In the mean time, San Antonians are bathing in a Sprint LTE signal that they cannot use. Hopefully, Sprint will soon end your misery and allow you to connect your brand spanking new LTE devices in high speed!
Photo of San Antonio provided courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.