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New Network Vision/LTE Deployment details and Central Jersey market work is under way with several sites live!

S4GRU

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blog-0615258001331081861.jpgby Robert Herron

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - 7:46 PM MST

 

Exciting breaking news from the S4GRU.com News Desk. Yesterday, I received a tip that Network Vision/LTE Deployment was under way in a market that S4GRU had not yet announced (although we were just about to). An unnamed S4GRU Reader contacted me and said they had witnessed Network Vision work under way in the Freehold area of Central New Jersey. Better yet, he talked with an engineer at one of the sites and got his name and phone number for me. Sure enough, I called the name and number.

 

The engineer I spoke with agreed to a telephone interview, but asked to remain anonymous. He works with one of the subcontractors for Alcatel/Lucent. I received a lot of good information as a result of our conversation.

 

 

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Sprint's Central Jersey market. Work on its 289 Network Vision sites is confirmed under way. Click to Enlarge.

 

Item #1 – The Central Jersey market is actively receiving Network Vision upgrades

 

Alcatel/Lucent and their merry group of subcontractors have started deployment in the Central Jersey Sprint market and they are scurrilously bringing you upgraded sites online. There are approximately 290 sites in the Central Jersey market, making it relatively small compared to many others. The first cluster in this market of approximately 20 sites are under way, with just over a dozen complete.

 

If current schedule holds, the entire market will be complete by early Summer. Sprint 4G Rollout Updates will now move the Central Jersey market from Second Round deployment to First Round in the Network Vision/LTE Deployment Running List thread.

 

 

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Central Jersey Network Vision sites complete. This map illustrates the 13 sites that have completed Network Vision upgrades in the Central Jersey market.

 

Item #2 – Testing Sequencing (in all markets)

 

Some readers have complained because they have gone to an active Network Vision deployment area and not seen any improvement in signal nor performance. Even though the work appears physically done. New panels, new RRU’s visible, lots of new coax and new base station cabinets. Is Network Vision a bust?

 

Au contraire! When the work at a site is physically done, in most cases, a waiting game occurs. Network Vision upgrades are not made live to the general public until all the sites in a cluster are complete and tested. The legacy system stays in place, operating just like normal, and the new system stays dormant. When all the sites within a cluster are complete, the testing phase occurs on the new Network Vision system within that cluster.

 

Testing is being done in the PCS G-block on 1900. 1xA carriers, EVDO carriers and LTE carriers. This is being done so as to not interfere with existing customers. Customer can go on blissfully unaware that anything is afoot. Since there is only 10MHz of G Block spectrum to be exploited for testing, first only the voice and 3G EVDO testing will occur. During this phase, route drive testing will occur all over the cluster. Checking performance is occurring per design and also E911 testing is conducted.

 

If all checks out, the 1xA and EVDO carriers will get moved off G Block frequencies and LTE testing commences. No 800MHz testing is being conducted at this time, though hardware is being deployed for both a single 1xA voice carrier and a 5x5 LTE carrier on SMR to be tested and activated in the future. Presumably after iDEN is decommissioned in each market.

 

After all the testing is said and done, the whole cluster will be brought up at once. The legacy system will be shut down and the Network Vision system with enhanced backhaul will go live. This is when customers will likely notice performance differences. Signal improvement should be in the 20% range for most customers. Backhaul will be significantly improved, so faster 3G speeds should result in most cases.

 

Not all sites will get 800MHz service. Sites that have limitations to RRU placement may not get 800MHz service at all. Also, there will be several sites in each market that will receive 1xA 800MHz voice carriers, but not 800-LTE service. 800MHz LTE service is being identified mostly for additional capacity urban sites and major highway sites to increase coverage. This will be especially helpful in rural places where spacing is a problem.

 

Even though there will be less sites with 800MHz coverage, there will still be more 800MHz coverage area in most markets than 1900MHz coverage. This is because PCS towers at an urban density are too dense for 800MHz service to be on every one. So approximately every other site will not have 800MHz in dense locations. But a user next to a PCS only site in a dense environment will still get a solid 800MHz signal from another 800 site a half mile away. So there is very little coverage difference that results.

 

Item #3 - LTE Speeds...you heard it here, first!

 

LTE speeds being encountered are good for a 5x5 carrier. These are not going to blow Verizon’s LTE network out of the water any time soon. Subcontractors in the field are seeing speed tests that are far exceeding Sprint’s design intent for their LTE network. The design threshold was for 6Mbps - 8Mbps download speeds at normal signal, normal load. Sprint is considering to advertise its 4G LTE typical speeds of 5Mbps - 8Mbps download, with bursts over 15Mbps. Uploads in the 2Mbps - 3Mbps range.

 

Field engineers are experiencing steady 12Mbps+ download speeds consistently in an unburdened network. Occasionally breaking 20Mbps. This is good news for just a 5x5 LTE deployment. When you consider that Sprint’s LTE meets or exceeds the performance of Clearwire’s WiMax with smaller carriers, it’s a very good sign.

 

What makes this even better than Clearwire’s WiMax network is that the coverage will be much more uniform from 1900MHz frequencies (and even better in 2013 with 800MHz) than what is experienced currently from the WiMax network. Also, market coverage will be much more broad. There are some WiMax sites, especially some really underburdened Protection Sites that can experience speeds in this range. However, most WiMax sites are considerably slower these days. Distance from the site and cell congestion are the biggest factors affecting LTE speed testing trials.

 

It will be critical for Sprint to constantly monitor the network and keep up with adding additional LTE carriers and bringing them online as capacity starts to fill at each site. Each site will start with a FD-LTE carrier on 1900, then adding a FD-LTE carrier on 800 when needed, and even more TD-LTE carriers from Clearwire when needed beyond that.

 

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This is not a real screen shot from an actual Sprint LTE speed test. Shown for illustrative purposes only.

 

 

EDIT 3/2/2012 - Changed speed listings from MB to Mbps to be technically accurate. Which is the best kind of accurate. Thank you to S4GRU Member Mix for pointing it out.

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The excitement starts early tonight... Didn't even have to wait til 1000. This sounds promising! Thanks Robert!

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Great article. Starting to wonder if that crackpot youtube video from some guy who claimed to be a Sprint employee accessing an LTE tower in Texas was legit now.

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20 megabits in an empty network that is not good. If their LTE network turns out 6 to 8 megabits that won't be a big difference because I get over 9 and 10 easily here in NYC using Wimax.

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Also I guess there have been layoffs at Ericsson recently field tech wise that maintain Sprint/Clearwire sites in the northwest territory.

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20 megabits in an empty network that is not good. If their LTE network turns out 6 to 8 megabits that won't be a big difference because I get over 9 and 10 easily here in NYC using Wimax.

6 to 8 Megs is GREAT!! Especially if it is nation wide, on a loaded network, at Sprints price, and is unlimited!!

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20 megabits in an empty network that is not good. If their LTE network turns out 6 to 8 megabits that won't be a big difference because I get over 9 and 10 easily here in NYC using Wimax.

 

You aren't comparing apples to apples. You are comparing WiMax's best, to Sprint's LTE worst. I have used a WiMax protection site with fiber backhaul being the only person on it (completely unburdened) and was getting 14MB - 15MB speeds. I have never, ever gotten 20MB anything ever on WiMax the way it is currently deployed by Clearwire. And most full deloyment markets get 3MB to 5MB typical speed on WiMax. 12MB WiMax speeds are atypical.

 

However, I suggest you stay on WiMax, and the rest of us will move to LTE. K?

 

- Robert

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20 megabits in an empty network that is not good. If their LTE network turns out 6 to 8 megabits that won't be a big difference because I get over 9 and 10 easily here in NYC using Wimax.

 

I will take a slight speed decrease if it meant more consistency and reliability. Seriously though, for a mobile device 6 to 8 megs down and 2 to 3 megs up with low latency is more than enough for a long time to come. Also note that I live in atlanta and I have hit 12 megs many times myself.

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You aren't comparing apples to apples. You are comparing WiMax's best, to Sprint's LTE worst. I have used a WiMax protection site with fiber backhaul being the only person on it (completely unburdened) and was getting 14MB - 15MB speeds. I have never, ever gotten 20MB anything ever on WiMax the way it is currently deployed by Clearwire. And most full deloyment markets get 3MB to 5MB typical speed on WiMax. 12MB WiMax speeds are atypical.However, I suggest you stay on WiMax, and the rest of us will move to LTE. K?- Robert

 

I tether from my cabin which is in the middle of nowhere. I have to use a a signal booster to even get a usable Sprint signal (no one lives near the cell site), So, when NV is complete I pretty much will have this one unburdened tower to myself and 12-20mbps is what I get on my home (Tulsa) cable connection, so I'm excited.

 

5-6mbps would be a welcome change in the city too, I could finally stream without skipping. I could also tether to get faster speeds than my College has (fail).

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megabits or megabytes? Mb = megabits, MB = megabytes

 

All speeds quoted in the wireless world is Mb, or megabits. Megabytes (MB) would be far more accurate, but not used. 8 megabits = 1 megabyte transferred.

 

Conversion Calculator: http://www.unitconversion.org/data-storage/megabits-to-megabytes-conversion.html

 

It would probably be best to actually denote Mb when discussing wireless speeds. But virtually everyone uses MB, so I have chosen to follow that faulty philosophy as well.

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Robert, strongly disagree with your use of MB and your contention that this is how they are often displayed. Not sure where you are getting this. Mb and MB are pretty universally understood to represent megabit and megabyte respectively. You are only confusing your readers.

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Robert, strongly disagree with your use of MB and your contention that this is how they are often displayed. Not sure where you are getting this. Mb and MB are pretty universally understood to represent megabit and megabyte respectively. You are only confusing your readers.

 

Please find me references where a wireless company is advertising it's speeds in megabytes. No one does. Not one! They all do in megabits. It makes them sound faster. If one of them broke rank and advertised their speeds in megabytes, they would look slower than their competitors.

 

It is not me who determines how wireless companies advertise their speeds. The only thing I could do differently is change my posts to say Mb instead of MB. And the only people who know the difference between the two will not be confused.

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We are talking about two different things. I thought you were saying you wanted me to start listing all speeds in megabytes and not megabits. And I was replying that no one measures wireless speeds in megabytes...which they don't.

 

But I believe what you are saying is that you think it would be better to use the abbreviation for megabits, over megabytes? Correct? You think using MB in place of Mb in the above article confuses our readers. Correct?

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...It will be critical for Sprint to constantly monitor the network and keep up with adding additional LTE carriers and bringing them online as capacity starts to fill at each site. Each site will start with a FD-LTE carrier on 1900, then adding a FD-LTE carrier on 800 when needed, and even more TD-LTE carriers from Clearwire when needed beyond that...

 

Will "adding carriers" require truck rolls each time???

 

If so then why the F are they not going ahead and adding all they have right now while they are at the tower and also putting it on 800MHz if thats the full blown plan 100% sure?

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Also the point of sites being brought live in clusters is this specific to this market and other markets, or is this how they are going to be doing it nationwide going forward b/c it contradicts what you said about Boston being brought live site by site...

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Interesting looking at that map. Sprint started Network vision in between New York and Philly.

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Interesting looking at that map. Sprint started Network vision in between New York and Philly.

 

It should have been obvious to me, since the very first Network Vision announcement was related to a site conversion in Branchburg, NJ. Which is in the Central Jersey market. However, all of Sprint's schedules I've seen, including an update this week, still show Central Jersey as a Second Round market. But I have now confirmed that it is indeed underway. More sites coming live soon. Stay tuned.

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I can confirm 4g light turned on in South Old Bridge, NJ area. In the Foxboro neighborhood, which is located next to Marlboro, NJ.

 

Next to Route 18

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