by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 5:03 AM MDT
The next market in our Network Vision/LTE deployment schedule update series is...Boston, Mass. This market has not been announced by Sprint, but appears to be on the way for a late August launch, and work is already well under way in this market.
The Boston market essentially covers the entirety of the Bay State, from Pittsfield to the end of Cape Cod. Sprint's Network Vision OEM Alcatel/Lucent has been actively deploying in the Boston market since late February and has a lot of sites up and running. As of this week, there are approximately 150 Network Vision sites that have completed upgrades. These sites are pretty spread out around the market, from Springfield to Suburban Boston and way out to New Bedford and Cape Cod!
Complete Network Vision Sites in the Boston market. Approximately 150 Network Vision sites are complete in the market. The map on the left showing sites with 3G on-air and the map on the right showing 4G LTE on-air.
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, 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 Boston, we don't know if they will resume pushing back market launches to 50%, or if they will now settle on a 30% - 40% completion to be the new normal for market launches.
If Sprint waits for 50% completion to launch the Boston market, it would make the launch month to be October (should AlcaLu stay on schedule). That being said, if Sprint should launch around the third week of August (as we suspect), then the market would be less than 50% complete. This doesn't sound like enough, 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 late August, 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.
Until recently, Sprint was not reporting any of these live Network Vision sites in Boston have 4G LTE complete, only 3G EVDO. But this weekend, 4G LTE sites started to go on-air in the Boston market. The 140 or so 3G only Network Vision sites will likely start coming live with 4G LTE very soon.
The bottom line...
We currently do not have a date that Sprint will formally "launch" the Boston market. We believe they are targeting a launch month of August based on reports internally within Sprint. However, after reviewing the schedule, it may actually pan out to be late August or the first of September. Sprint will likely announce a launch date for this market, and a few others like Austin, Washington DC, Chicago and Los Angeles around the time of the first launch.
Sprint's Network Vision schedule for this market currently has 148 Network Vision sites complete. Alcatel/Lucent is plotting continual progress from here with production increasing up to a rate of almost 70 sites per month. S4GRU has examined the schedule in great detail in this market and sees that most of the sites will be complete by February 2013. However, there are several sites that will linger past the completion. In our estimation of the schedule, AlcaLu is right on time, and should have no problem meeting or exceeding the schedule.
Photo of Boston skyline provided courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.