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Baltimore Network Vision/LTE Deployment schedule update

S4GRU

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by Robert Herron

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 6:33 PM MDT

 

Next stop, Baltimore! S4GRU continues our Network Vision/LTE deployment schedule update series with "The Greatest City in America." I didn't come up with that Motto, but I did read it on Wikipedia. So it must be true! Back in February, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse broke the news that Baltimore will be launched with Network Vision and LTE in Mid-2012.

 

The Baltimore market essentially covers all of Maryland, except for the portions in the Sprint Washington DC market and Western Maryland which is mostly served by Sprint Affiliate Shentel. Sprint's Network Vision OEM Alcatel/Lucent has been actively deploying in the Baltimore market since March and is making good progress. As of this week, there are approximately 55 Network Vision sites that have completed upgrades. These sites are pretty spread out around the market, from Inner City Baltimore, out to the suburbs, one in Annapolis and even three out on the Eastern Shore!

 

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Network Vision Sites in the Baltimore market. More than fifty Network Vision sites are complete in the market.

 

Market Launch and Remaining Schedule

 

It was Sprint's original plan to launch markets when they reached 50% of sites converted to Network Vision. However, 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 markets that have already been announced...like Baltimore. If they waited for 50% now, it would delay launch until September. In the case of the Baltimore market, should Sprint launch by Mid July, they would only be complete with approximately 25% to 30% 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.

 

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.

 

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Anticipated Sites Complete at Market Launch. According to the Network Vision schedules that S4GRU has reviewed, if Sprint launched the market in Mid July, 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.

 

Sprint is not reporting any of these live Network Vision sites in Baltimore are currently broadcasting 4G LTE, only 3G EVDO. According to the NV schedule, these should have started coming online in May with LTE. However, none have shown up as LTE active to date. This most likely means that either the backhaul is not quite ready to service 4G LTE, or the 4G cores that these sites are tied to are not quite ready for LTE traffic. A huge backlog of LTE 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 Baltimore market. We believe they are targeting a launch month of July based on reports internally within Sprint. Currently Sprint continues to block LTE connections by its customers with LTE devices. Hopefully by the time LTE is ready at these Baltimore sites, Sprint will have stopped their LTE blocking schemes.

 

Sprint's schedule for this market currently has 55 Network Vision sites complete. Alcatel/Lucent is continuing to progress and should increase the production rate up to 60 sites per month from here forward. S4GRU has poured over the schedule in this market and sees a December 2012 completion date. In our estimation of the schedule, it appears that Alcatel/Lucent is only slightly behind in the market and looks good to completing on time.

 

 

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Photo of Baltimore Inner Harbor provided courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

NOTE: S4GRU Sponsor Members can track regular updates of

Network Vision sites completed nationwide. Completed sites are shown in an interactive Google Maps interface. Information about sponsorship can be found here: S4GRU Sponsorship



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So I'm seeing a pattern with all of these markets. Essentially Sprint initially planned on launching mid-2012 with 50% of the market completed. Instead, they're now going to end up launching short of that 50%, I assume this implies they're behind schedule?

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I am sure

So I'm seeing a pattern with all of these markets. Essentially Sprint initially planned on launching mid-2012 with 50% of the market completed. Instead, they're now going to end up launching short of that 50%, I assume this implies they're behind schedule?

 

Yeah it seems like Sprint is a bit behind schedule due to the learning curve needed for each of the crews and is also probably due to certain things like backhaul not being readily available at the time of NV tower completion, equipment etc. I am hoping that Sprint is able to catch up as more and more crews come up to speed and can deploy towers faster.

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So I'm seeing a pattern with all of these markets. Essentially Sprint initially planned on launching mid-2012 with 50% of the market completed. Instead, they're now going to end up launching short of that 50%, I assume this implies they're behind schedule?

 

I guess I can see why someone could draw that conclusion. However, when Dan Hesse announced the first six markets, he did so off a schematic schedule. The final detailed site by site schedule was not available at that time. So compared to a verbal announcement of the preliminary schematic schedule, someone could deduct they are behind schedule.

 

However, I am holding Sprint to the initial detailed baseline schedule to monitor progress. That didn't finish up until February for the first and second round markets...after the Hesse market announcements. And using that data, in some markets they are on schedule, some they are slightly behind schedule...and in Chicago they look like they are on track to getting ahead of schedule.

 

In these schedule update articles, we are judging them against their detailed site schedules to determine how they are doing.

 

A market launch is very subjective. Whether it is 50%, 40% or 60%, it doesn't much matter. A launch is just a PR blitz saying, come on in, the water is fine. Go swimming.

 

Robert

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So are they going to announce something soon? It is mid year.

 

By my understanding, Mid Year is from June through August. I wouldn't expect Sprint to say anything about Baltimore prior to official market launch. Which is expected in July for this market.

 

Robert

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I guess I can see why someone could draw that conclusion. However, when Dan Hesse announced the first six markets, he did so off a schematic schedule. The final detailed site by site schedule was not available at that time. So compared to a verbal announcement of the preliminary schematic schedule, someone could deduct they are behind schedule. However, I am holding Sprint to the initial detailed baseline schedule to monitor progress. That didn't finish up until February for the first and second round markets...after the Hesse market announcements. And using that data, in some markets they are on schedule, some they are slightly behind schedule...and in Chicago they look like they are on track to getting ahead of schedule. In these schedule update articles, we are judging them against their detailed site schedules to determine how they are doing.A market launch is very subjective. Whether it is 50%, 40% or 60%, it doesn't much matter. A launch is just a PR blitz saying, come on in, the water is fine. Go swimming. Robert

 

I see, I wasn't intending to sound negative, just an observation. I guess I didn't realize what a short time all these plans came together in and how recently things were finalized. Sprint definitely did have to play some serious catch-up from the end of last year to be where they are now.

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I see, I wasn't intending to sound negative, just an observation. I guess I didn't realize what a short time all these plans came together in and how recently things were finalized. Sprint definitely did have to play some serious catch-up from the end of last year to be where they are now.

 

I didn't take it as negative. You were explaining things the way you see it from the info you have, and I had an opportunity to share things from my perch. No biggie at all.

 

Robert

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I live on the upper eastern shore Cecilton how do I find out if I'm part of the Baltimore market or Phila market.

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So when will work on Delaware market start any clue's.

 

Network Vision/LTE deployment will not begin in the Delaware market until 2013.

 

Robert

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Based on today's announcement of launch by 8/31, that puts them approximately a month behind schedule. Not bad considering the weather issues between the storms and the extreme heat. It can't be fun climbing cell towers with temps over 100 degrees.

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