by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, July 2, 2012 - 12:30 PM MDT
The next market in our Network Vision/LTE deployment schedule update series is ...San Diego. The San Diego 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 San Diego market encompasses San Diego County and parts of Imperial County, including the San Diego Metro Area, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, Escondido and Calexico and El Centro to the East. Sprint's Network Vision OEM Alcatel/Lucent is scheduled to begin mobilizing their subcontractors around the market this month. The first completed Network Vision sites are scheduled to start coming online in August.
San Diego 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 San Diego, 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 this market, it would make the launch approximately February/March (should the OEM stay on schedule). If they plan on a 40% market completion for launch, that would be January. 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 January, 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
Sprint has not selected a date to formally "launch" LTE service in San Diego, yet. 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 January market launch (going on a 40% - 50% completion for launch). But there is no way to know if AlcaLu 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.
Alcatel/Lucent needs to hit a production rate of approximately 70 sites per month to stay on schedule. This market shouldn't have problems staying on time as 70 sites per month is a steady rate that can be achieved with proper planning.
S4GRU has examined the schedule in great detail in this market and sees that most of the sites will be complete by May 2013. However, there may be a few sporadic sites that will linger past the completion.
Photo of the Downtown San Diego provided courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.