by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, June 25, 2012 - 7:15 AM MDT
The next market in our Network Vision/LTE deployment schedule update series is a place where things are just starting to get hopping...Miami and South Florida. This is the first Second Round market we have written up in this article series. The Miami/West Palm market has yet to be announced by Sprint, but is expected to be announced in the near future. Perhaps around the time of the first market launches.
The Sprint Miami/West Palm market covers basically all of South Florida, from West Palm Beach to Key West. Dade, Broward, Monroe and West Palm counties. Sprint's Network Vision OEM Ericsson began mobilizing in this area with its subcontractors in May and has been actively working throughout June thus far. To date, there are no completed and active Network Vision sites in the market, but there should be pretty soon.
Network Vision work in Miami/West Palm market. A site receiving Network Vision overhaul in Homestead, Florida in June 2012. Photos courtesy of S4GRU Member flycuban.
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 Miami, 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 the Miami/West Palm market, it would make the launch month to be November (should Ericsson stay on schedule). If they plan on a 40% market completion for launch, that would be October. 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 October, 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.
The bottom line...
We currently do not have a date that Sprint will formally "launch" the Miami/West Palm market. It is really hard to call at this point, but the schedule as of today would indicate an October or November market launch (going on a 40% - 50% completion for launch). But there is no way to know if Ericsson 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.
Ericsson will only need to hit a production rate of 65 sites per month to stay on schedule. This seems like a reasonable rate, compared with how some other Ericsson markets are going along. The Atlanta/Athens market has hit rates beyond this. And the Chicago market has been able to hit 50 sites in a week at times, but that market is being handled by Samsung and a different subcontractor base.
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 may be a few sporadic sites that will linger past the completion.
Photo of Miami provided courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.