In a press release today, Sprint discusses some Network Vision updates, including that they have completed their first Network Vision cluster of upgrades in the Northern Illinois city of Kankakee.
This makes the first community in the U.S. with a full Sprint LTE deployment (as far as we know). Although, there will be no devices available for customers to use these LTE signals until approximate Midyear 2012. Bob Azzi, a Sprint Senior Vice President of Networks, even raised the ante when he said, "we expect to maintain and even accelerate this momentum in 2012." Eluding to a possible further acceleration of deployment.
In this latest Kankakee deployment, Sprint has installed several Network Vision towers over the community, and using this area as a test bed for final network configuration and future devices. This is an important step to make sure that devices will be able to not only transfer from tower to tower on the same frequencies, but also from frequency to frequency and from technology to technology (EVDO to LTE, etc.).
Also of note, is there is a WiMax protection site in Kankakee deployed by Clearwire in the Summer of 2011. So this location can also be used to test transferring between WiMax and other technologies, also.
In a review of the Sprint Network site, nothing really stands out to help identify this work as being associated with Network Vision in the Kankakee area. The Kankakee launch was successful and went as anticipated. This is likely the last hurdle to make sure that no final adjustments would need to be made for devices as ordered from OEM's, or if adjustments would need to be made at the towers for devices. Testing associated with this Kankakee deployment is likely the last hurdle before Network Vision starts to go full bore ahead.
If you are in the Kankakee area, or will be in the near future, take your Sprint devices down there and let us know what you encounter. Especially devices that run on 800MHz. Since this was a testing deployment, 800MHz may even be a part of the mix there. Would love to hear some confirmation of that.
Sprint said, "(We are) on track to offer LTE devices by mid-year 2012 and complete the majority of its Network Vision rollout in 2013. Sprint expects to make additional announcements about the timing of LTE markets and devices early next year."
We will be waiting for updates with baited breath! Also in the press release, Sprint said they are in the process of "validating rapid LTE deployment schedule." Maybe they can release it upon validation???
Kankakee, Illinois as seen at the network.sprint.com website.
UPDATE 12/28/2011 11:01 AM MST: There were 14 FIT towers in the test. Only two were technically in the Kankakee area just to the east of town. The rest are to the east in Western Indiana.