by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, July 6, 2012 - 12:55 PM MDT
The next market in our Network Vision/LTE deployment schedule update series is way down yonder...Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The PR/VI market has yet to be announced by Sprint. Network Vision work is under way, with Samsung and their subcontractors actively working around the market. The Sprint PR/VI market encompasses all of Puerto Rico (including Culebra and Vieques) as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands (including St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John).
Samsung has this market deployment configured in a completely different manner than any other we have reported. Samsung did show up and begin work at the end of April. Their subcontractors are running around the islands installing base station equipment, new cable runs, remote radio units and new Network Vision antenna panels. We have had S4GRU members in Puerto Rico submit some pictures of this work being completed at sites near them. This work appears to be on schedule from our previous report for the market.
Network Vision site in Yauco, Puerto Rico. S4GRU Member Edil Montalvo provided this shot of a site in Yauco that received NV upgrades in early May. This site is slated to get Microwave backhaul which will not arrive until this Fall.
Sprint and Samsung are currently working on the 4G Core in Bayamon that will handle all the LTE data and eHRPD data that will come from completed Network Vision sites. The Bayamon 4G Core will not be ready until this Fall. Sprint's backhaul vendors are actively working to install high-speed backhaul that will connect these NV sites to the completed core.
Once the 4G core is complete and a good chunk of the backhaul is in place, Samsung will get back out to completed Network Vision sites and get the 3G upgrades and LTE hooked up to the new backhaul. Then the eHRPD and LTE networks can be running. The deployment dates in this article will discuss the dates that LTE sites are scheduled to start going live this Winter after everything is in place.
Anticipated Sites Complete at Market Launch. According to the Network Vision schedules that S4GRU has reviewed, if Sprint launched the market in February, 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 in the PR/VI market. It is difficult to try to pick a date now this far out, but we will attempt to. In looking at the schedule as of today, it would indicate a February-March LTE launch (going on a 40% - 50% completion for launch). We will have a better idea how deployment is going after the Bayamon core and backhaul work are completed and LTE starts to go live.
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. There is a chance that if the Bayamon core and backhaul can get completed ahead of schedule that these LTE live dates can be improved upon.
Photo of Christiansted, St. Croix provided courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.