by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Thursday, June 28, 2012 - 7:50 AM MDT
The next market in our Network Vision/LTE deployment schedule update series is...Central Jersey. The Central Jersey 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 on July 15th?
Sprint's Network Vision OEM Alcatel/Lucent initially deployed to the Central Jersey market quite early, starting work back in November 2011 at a site in Branchburg. AlcaLu later established their 4G LTE FIT (field testing) areas around the Marlboro/Freehold areas at the beginning of 2012. There are already 20 sites in this area with live Network Vision upgrades...both 3G and 4G LTE. And work is just about to begin in other parts of the market in the next 30 to 45 days.
Network Vision Sites in the Central Jersey market. 14 sites are complete in the market around Marlboro/Freehold. All of these broadcasting Sprint LTE, and some of them have been reported as not being blocked at this time.
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 in many instances. This is likely to maintain a Mid 2012 launch in markets that have already been announced. However, in an unannounced market like Central Jersey, 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 Central Jersey market, it would make the launch around the middle of December (should they stay on schedule). That being said, if Sprint should launch around mid November (as we suspect), then the market would be well under 50% complete. This doesn't sound like enough, 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 in November, these are the anticipated sites that would have LTE complete at that time. This would provide fairly good LTE coverage over many parts of 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 reporting that most of the Network Vision sites around Marlboro have both 3G EVDO and 4G LTE complete. It is not known at this time if the new sites that start coming online will have both 4G and 3G complete at the same time. But we are keeping our fingers crossed.
The bottom line...
We currently do not have a date that Sprint will formally "launch" the Central Jersey market. We believe they are targeting a launch month of November based on our review of the schedule. Sprint's Network Vision schedule for this market currently has almost 15 Network Vision sites complete.
Alcatel/Lucent is plotting continual progress from here with production increasing up to a rate of almost 50 sites per month. S4GRU has poured over the schedule in this market and sees a February 2013 completion date. In our estimation of the schedule, AlcaLu can certainly finish this market timely.
Photo of New Brunswick provided courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.