by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, June 29, 2012 - 12:28 PM MDT
The next market in our Network Vision/LTE deployment schedule update series is ...Tampa. The Tampa Bay area 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 Tampa market encompasses all of the Sprint native coverage in the Tampa Bay area, including Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties. This includes Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Pinellas Park, Seminole, Largo, Dunedin, Brandon, Plant City, Riverview, Palm Harbor, New Port Richey, Tarpon Springs, Zephyrhills, Spring Hill and Brooksville. Sprint's Network Vision OEM Ericsson is scheduled to begin mobilizing with its subcontractors in August. Completed Network Vision sites should start coming online around the first of Septemeber.
Tampa Market Launch
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 Tampa, 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.
It doesn't much matter in this market if Sprint launches at 40% or 50% completion. Ericsson is scheduled to hit both the 40% and 50% milestones in the month of December (should they stay on schedule). It may seem 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 December, 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.
Schedule details and the bottom line
We currently do not have a date that Sprint will formally "launch" LTE service around the Tampa Bay. It is difficult to try to pick a date now this far out, but we will take a stab at it. In looking at the schedule as of today, it would indicate a December 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 45 sites per month to stay on schedule. This appears to us to be an achievable rate. If properly prepared and equipped and if backhaul is ready timely, this market shouldn't have problems staying on time. But this is easy to say before they get started.
S4GRU has examined the schedule in great detail in this market and sees that most of the sites will be complete by March 2013. However, there may be a few sporadic sites that will linger past the completion.
Photo of Tampa skyline provided courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.