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)
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)
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.
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:
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.