by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Thursday, December 19, 2013 - 2:12 PM MST
As most of our S4GRU readers are aware, Sprint is pursuing a three pronged approach to LTE. Tri band 25/26/41 LTE 1900/800/2600 -- the first two bands operating as FDD in Sprint and Nextel PCS 1900 MHz and SMR 800 MHz spectrum, the last operating as TDD in Clearwire BRS/EBS 2600 MHz spectrum.
A year and a half ago in the early days of Network Vision, S4GRU was the first web site to offer a peek at a live Sprint LTE downlink carrier. We did likewise in running tri band hotspot field tests upon the emergence of Sprint/Clearwire TD-LTE 2600 in Denver this past summer.
But the missing piece in the tri band LTE strategy has been the 800 MHz spectrum and the decisive propagation advantages it brings to the table. Then, three weeks ago, S4GRU was able to start sourcing inside info on a few but growing number of band 26 site acceptances around the country. And today, S4GRU presents an exclusive first look at a live Sprint LTE 800 carrier.
From the spectrum analyzer RF sweep, we can see that this site has achieved SMR 800 MHz deployment completion. On the left is the 1.25 MHz FDD CDMA1X 800 downlink carrier at band class 10 channel assignment 476, which equates to center frequency 862.9 MHz. On this site, CDMA1X 800 was deployed earlier this year just prior to the Nextel iDEN 800 shutdown. But LTE 800 did not follow -- until now.
On the right is the newborn 5 MHz FDD LTE 800 downlink carrier. Temporarily, connections to the LTE 800 carrier are not yet allowed, so an exact EARFCN cannot be determined. But frequency domain analysis suggests a downlink EARFCN 8763, which equates to center frequency 866.3 MHz and is smack dab in the middle of the EARFCN 8761-8765 range that I predicted in one of my engineering screen articles earlier this year.
In our Premier sponsors section, S4GRU continues to track ongoing band 26 LTE 800 site acceptances, which should accelerate rapidly over the next several weeks and months. Most progress thus far is in the Chicago, Houston, Kansas, Jacksonville, and North Wisconsin markets. However, LTE 800 will continue to sprout up across the Sprint network -- outside of those areas encumbered by IBEZ restrictions with Canada and Mexico. Below is today's snapshot of the evolving LTE 800 site map.
Source: author's field test, S4GRU map data