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Samsung Network Vision/LTE Deployment schedule & details for Sprint's Chicago Market

S4GRU

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blog-0494387001329132662.jpgby Robert Herron

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Monday, February 13, 2012 - 4:19 AM MST

 

A little over a week ago, Sprint 4G Rollout Updates brought you an article with some details about Network Vision deployment in Chicago. At that time, we reported that the Windy City would receive its Network Vision in cluster deployments. In this article we expand with more detailed information on how Samsung will deploy these clusters based on new information from an internal undisclosed source close to the Network Vision program.

 

The Chicago market is just incredibly large and diverse for Sprint, with over 1,100 cell sites. Tearing down and rebuilding more than a thousand sites is mind boggling to coordinate and physically laborious to achieve. Samsung has prepared a detailed plan to get it all done by October.

 

Many of you may be disappointed and think that October is a long way out, but follow along. There will be many miles before Samsung Network Vision field techs will sleep. Samsung and Sprint are hitting the Chicago market hard and will be going non-stop until Network Vision completes the market in the next eight months.

 

The Sprint Chicago Market is Deeper than any Windy City Deep Dish

 

The sheer size and amount of work involved is the big reason why Chicago has not been announced by Sprint like the cities of Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Atlanta, Baltimore and Kansas City have been. Sprint thus far has been focused on releasing the names of Network Vision and LTE markets that will largely be complete by mid-year. Even though the Chicago market started slightly earlier than the already announced markets, Samsung will not be complete with Network Vision there by mid year. Although many Chicagoland residents with soon-to-be-for-sale Sprint LTE devices will be able to use the new network at that time, as each new cluster goes live.

 

The Sprint Chicago market is made up of about 1,120 sites that have been broken down into over 40 conventional Network Vision clusters and two FIT (field testing) clusters. Deployment began in November with the FIT clusters. And once field testing was completed with these, the conventional deployment began in January.

 

Two Field Testing Clusters, including some unannounced live 4G LTE action in Hammond, Indiana

 

There are two FIT's that are included in the beginning of the Chicago Network Vision deployment. These were used to test some initial Network Vision deployments. Testing all the engineering and planning that was a year in the making and to see if any anamolies occured or technical adjustments that would need to be made in the Network Vision plans.

 

The first one, the Kankakee FIT, was announced by Sprint back in December 2011. The Kankakee FIT was well publicized through the tech media. However, there was a second 4G LTE FIT in Hammond, Indiana that also rolled out over a month ago. This one has not been covered in the media, until now.

 

That's right. You've heard it here first. Hammond, Indiana has a full Sprint 4G LTE deployment active right now. Of course, without any Sprint LTE devices out there at the moment, you cannot use it. Tens of thousands of Northwestern Indiana residents are being bathed in a Sprint 4G LTE signal at 1900MHz right now from 22 sites. This 4G LTE FIT runs from Central Hammond, bleeding a little over the Illinois border and running SE all the way to Merrillville. (see map)

 

med_gallery_1_2_203157.jpg

 

What was referred to as the Kankakee FIT was really a 3G-only Network Vision FIT. Many news outlets reported these as including 4G LTE because it was assumed all Network Vision towers had LTE. Interestingly, the Kankakee Network Vision FIT did not even include the community of Kankakee, but rather was represented by 15 cell sites straddling the Indiana/Illinois border. The communities covered by the 3G Network Vision FIT include Momence in Illinois and Roselawn, Hebron, Rensselaer, Morocco and Kentland in Indiana. Sprint's reference to these in December as being in Kankakee turns out to be quite a misnomer. (see map)

 

med_gallery_1_2_634066.jpg

 

Conventional NV Rollout anything but conventional

 

Last month, Samsung began conventional Network Vision deployment. The first clusters receiving Network Vision overhauls are distant rural Chicago communities. Places where they can cover lots of square mileage per site and master their learning curve on fewer customers in a less dense environment.

 

January clusters include one near the community of Rochelle and extend to approximately a dozen sites in surrounding Ogle, Lee and DeKalb counties. The other cluster is around the town of Morris with another 20 sites spread around rural portions of Grundy, Kendall and Will counties. These are largely active now.

 

In February, Samsung endeavors to be complete with the cluster in the I-90 Tollway corridor that runs from Elgin to the edge of the Rockford cluster (between Marengo and Belvidere). March brings about the first moves into the suburbs with a cluster around the Fox Valley Mall between Naperville and Aurora, a cluster around Addison (including Lombard, Glendale Heights and Villa Park) and finishing up out in the Northwestern exurbs with a cluster in the area around Cary and Wauconda.

 

The month of April, Samsung plans to extend deeper into suburbia expanding the Addison cluster westward into Carol Stream and Bloomingdale. April will also begin the Joliet cluster. And the month will wrap up with an expansion west from the Hammond cluster into the Illinois communities of Calumet City, South Holland, Dolton and Harvey. NV service will also be added to sites out in distant Sterling and Rock Falls.

 

Activity is scheduled to really pick up momentum in May, when a more central cluster around the Evanston/Skokie area starts to come online. Other clusters seeing activity in May include Waukegan/North Chicago, Naperville, Bolingbrook/Downers Grove and the Kankakee cluster that actually includes the city.

 

 

gallery_1_2_167402.jpg

Chicago Cluster Map. This is a color coded map showing all the sites in the Chicago metro area. Each different color represents a different cluster.

 

 

The remaining clusters to be deployed:

 

June Clusters

 

· Schaumburg/Elk Grove Village

· Aurora

· Valparaiso/Portage/Michigan City, Indiana

· Crown Point, Indiana/Chicago Heights, Illinois

· Gurnee

· McHenry/Woodstock

· St. Charles/DeKalb

· Freeport

· Ottawa/Peru/LaSalle/Princeton I-80 Corridor

 

July Clusters

 

· Rockford/Harvard

· Palatine/Arlington Heights

· South Chicago

· Tinley Park/Orland Park

· Cicero/Berwyn/Brookfield

· Oak Park/Maywood

· Wheaton/West Chicago

· Crystal Lake

· Whiting/East Chicago, Indiana

 

August Clusters

 

· Streamwood/Elgin (east of the river)

· Glenview/Niles

· Harwood Heights/Northwest Chicago (city)

 

Septemeber Clusters

 

· The Loop/Downtown Chicago

· Remainder of Urban Chicago

· Oak Lawn

· Des Plaines/O'Hare

· Northbrook/Glenview/Wheeling

· Highland Park/Deerfield

· Lake Forest/Mundelein

· Plainfield/Homer Glen

· Gary, Indiana

 

As you can see, the Chicago market is going to be a bear to tackle for Sprint and Samsung. And likely this difficult deployment will repeat itself in markets like New York and Los Angeles. When you look at the sheer numbers, it's amazing that Sprint is going to largely complete Network Vision in 24 months.

 

Oh yeah, and a little 800MHz info

 

Some of the biggest questions that many Sprint Network Vision followers ask are related to 800MHz ESMR band recommissioning for CDMA/LTE in Network Vision. Although we haven't discovered answers to all of Sprint's 800MHz mysteries out there, we can tell you that Sprint is fully deploying 800MHz in Network Vision now.

 

The entirety of the 800MHz portion of the network from antennas, radios, base station equipment...everything...it will all be in place as a part of Network Vision. It just will not be active until interference from the iDEN network goes away. Final dates to be determined, market by market.

 

Another 800MHz factoid is that not every Sprint cell site will receive 800MHz service. Part of the Network Vision program includes installing radios (RRU's) up high on the towers, directly behind the antennas. However, some sites will have to keep ground mounted RRU's for varying reasons. Sites with ground mounted RRU's will not be receiving 800MHz deployment. Since most of these locations occur in denser urban/suburban deployment environments, there will be virtually no effect on 800 coverage area in total.

 

EDITED 3/5/2012: To include cluster map.

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very nice write up there!

 

Found it very interesting that they did a FIT with no LTE while the others are being deployed with it.

 

Did I miss reading the reason why this was done exactly?

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Since I live in Hammond this is total AWESOMENESS

I can say they have been working around here as signal is all over the place right now my 4g Wimax is over 10 mpbs just ran a speedtest at 12.30 mpbs fastest it has ever been. I am across the street from the tower that might have something to do with it

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Sarge, unfortunately the source of the documents was not close enough to the situation to know the reasoning behind the FIT's, so I could only go by the information contained in the docs. And they did not disclose any reasoning regarding the FIT's location or scope.

 

- Robert, S4GRU

 

Bryan/Tiny, when I discovered the info about the Hammond FIT, I thought of you specifically. I thought you might be pleased. Its a good day to be a Sprint customer in Hammond.

 

- Robert, S4GRU

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I live in an area of central Wisconsin that only has Nextel towers near by and no Sprint towers, any idea what they would plan to do here. I hope they will just become Sprint NV towers. I have one old Nextel phone with a number locked to the Nextel market and the map says these towers are up for review in April.

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Great article. It doesn't surprise me at all that none of the top 3 cities were part of the deployment in mid June. Hopefully you guys can get a hold of any of A/L's plans at some point so we can hear more information about how they are doing. I would be particularly interested in the way Los Angeles and New York City is being planned out for Network Vision completion. I am pretty certain that it will be very similar to the way Chicago is being built out by suburb clusters with milestones every month.

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@catpowrd...I have no definitive information about the few areas that have Nextel service, but no Sprint CDMA. I feel that as long as they hold enough PCS spectrum in the area to deploy 1x and EVDO carriers, there is a good chance that they will convert those Nextel towers to Network Vision. You have to hope Sprint wouldn't want to miss opportunities to expand its footprint in easy areas like that.

 

@ericdabbs...we now have more information about the next Samsung and Alcatel/Lucent cities that will be announced from Sprint. We plan on announcing some of that before them later this week. Stay tuned.

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Sarge, unfortunately the source of the documents was not close enough to the situation to know the reasoning behind the FIT's, so I could only go by the information contained in the docs. And they did not disclose any reasoning regarding the FIT's location or scope.- Robert....

 

Yeah just trying to wrap my head around the reasoning for NOT putting LTE on all sites when doing the tests....

BUT with NV the LTE is actually "there" just not "turned on" correct? Or are you saying they rolled out the NV tower upgrade there and didn't even include the LTE hardware on those FIT's?

 

If its my first guess then I can see that and them just wanting to do more tests on the 3G network w/o LTE turned on in that area for a little bit. If its the later of what I said then I dunno why they'd do it that way less they are contemplating changing something big hardware wise on the LTE side...no?

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Yeah just trying to wrap my head around the reasoning for NOT putting LTE on all sites when doing the tests....BUT with NV the LTE is actually "there" just not "turned on" correct? Or are you saying they rolled out the NV tower upgrade there and didn't even include the LTE hardware on those FIT's? If its my first guess then I can see that and them just wanting to do more tests on the 3G network w/o LTE turned on in that area for a little bit. If its the later of what I said then I dunno why they'd do it that way less they are contemplating changing something big hardware wise on the LTE side...no?

 

When it comes to the Kankakee FIT, I really have no idea. That's why I didn't include the information in the article. I assume that the Kankakee FIT area received all the equipment for LTE when deployed. I would even assume that the LTE is now live on those FIT sites now. I didn't see in the cluster planning schedule at any time Samsung going back to the Kankakee FIT cluster to do more work.

 

I'm assuming that the Kankakee FIT was 3G only for testing, not 3G only for deployment. Once the FIT testing was complete, I think the LTE was turned on. I would love confirmation though if any Sprint or Samsung employees want to send me a Private Message. ;)

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Would love to see some of this spread into Madison, WI. Seeing as we only have about 10 tours in town, it shouldn't take long. I think there are more Nextel Towers up here. I would like to see most all of them repurposed to Sprint CDMA/LTE except where redundant.

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It looks like to me at a glance of Sprint's 97 market list that Madison is located in the Milwaukee Sprint market. Madison will likely get Network Vision/LTE deployment at roughly the same time as MKE.

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Great site! Bob, do you have any info or hunches on what is happening / going to happen in the Champaign-Urbana market? My Sprint download speeds here recently spiked to 1-2 Mbps for a couple of weeks, up from the usual 50-200 kbps. I saw this at my home in southwest Champaign, my office in Rantoul and all along I-57 in between. Then after this nice taste of decent 3G, speeds dropped back down to more or less the previous level he past couple of days. Was wondering if this was somehow connected to the activity in Chicago. C-U isn't considered part of the Chicago market but I'm hoping it will get upgraded soon!

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C/U is part of the Central Illinois market for Sprint. There is a lot of work going on in the Sprint Central Illinois market. In the short term there are a lot of backordered T1's that are finally coming in to help until Network Vision backhaul is complete later this year.

 

The problem with T1's is that they do bring relief when first deployed, but a lot of people who stopped using the network because of poor performance will jump back on quickly and degrade the additional T1's back down.

 

There is no substitute for fiber and microwave backhaul.

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We will be releasing more info about the next Network Vision cities later in the week. Stay tuned.

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I understand JPSmith, I am in Peoria area and the speed of data here is abysmal. I know from talking to the a store manager back in December and he said at the time Springfield would be the first place that Sprint would launch LTE in Illinois. With the info from S4GRU regarding the importance of Central Illinois, I imagine we can't be too far behind.

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No, probably not. Since this article was published, Network Vision has been greatly reorganized in this market. There are only 14 sites live. There will be an article on it within the next week or so.

 

Robert

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I'm also interested in the updated Chicago market reorg., anything change with the O'hare area?

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Its funny how they test the Hammond market, roll out the June cluster with Valparaiso/Portage/Michigan City, Indiana,Crown Point, Indiana/Chicago Heights, Illinois..Jump to Whiting/East Chicago, Indiana in the July cluster, skip over Gary and not getting to them till September. Heck Im still waiting on 4G for my OG EVO lol.

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