by Robert Herron
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, January 30, 2012 - 4:45 PM MST
In a new graphic BriefMobile.com has released (see at bottom), Sprint is claiming to begin retuning iDEN towers in Louisiana (presumably in February) and the rest of the country starting in April. But what is retuning in this instance, really?
In the graphic they are prepping Sprint CSR’s with info of what to tell iDEN PTT customers. It also mentions who can get out of ETF’s (Early Termination Fees) and when. It also mentions that there will be some loss in signal propagation and that indoor coverage may suffer after retuning. Obviously, this is much more than retuning. Retuning makes it sound like they are making changes that will have positive results.
In the long term, Sprint is going to completely decommission the iDEN system and repurpose the 800MHz ESMR spectrum it currently uses for iDEN and re-use it for 1x Advanced voice and LTE carriers. However, in the past, Sprint has said they will not even begin iDEN decommissioning until 2013. But is this graphic telling us otherwise if we read between the lines? Are they really beginning now in Louisiana and moving on to the rest of the country in April?
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates has been critical in the past of Sprint for waiting until 2013 to begin iDEN decommissioning. We have said several times here and on numerous forums that it makes more sense to roll out CDMA and LTE on iDEN 800 spectrum now in Network Vision. Sprint can really benefit from expanded coverage that 800MHz will bring them, as well as having double the LTE capacity from day one. Also, there are some financial efficiencies gained for doing all this at once.
iDEN subscriber numbers are plummeting very consistently. It does not need the full 800 spectrum assets now for the iDEN network. And maybe even not at all. Sprint could possibly shunt their current iDEN subscribers off to their small 900MHz holdings to tie them over as their numbers continue to diminish. If Sprint planned the migration right, they could repurpose its entire 800MHz holdings right now in Network Vision. No need to wait until 2013 to begin.
And perhaps that’s what this graphic is telling us. Has Sprint finally got hip to a smarter strategy for Network Vision, iDEN decommissioning and 800MHz CDMA/LTE deployment? I sense an urgency in this image from Sprint. They are pushing heavily for CSRs to incentivize iDEN subscribers into either jumping over to Sprint Direct Connect (SDC) for their PTT needs, conventional Sprint CDMA or even leaving altogether without an ETF. They want these customers to scram off the iDEN network, and quickly. That much is clear.
We would love some more juicy dorky details. Like, are they just leaving a few iDEN carriers operating on 800 and allowing some re-use of 800 spectrum? Are they moving all iDEN traffic to 900 spectrum, completely? Are they doing something else that makes absolutely no sense? When can we expect 800 CDMA deployment to begin? Has it already begun? If you are a reader and you know, feel free to e-mail me, send me a private message…anything!
Although, I would love to have a Sprint to English dictionary and find out how they define “retuning.”
Photos Courtesy of Sprint and BriefMobile.com