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SouthernLINC Selects Ericsson, Cisco for LTE Network to Replace iDEN


Rawvega
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http://www.rrmediagroup.com/newsArticle.cfm?news_id=9922

 

SouthernLINC Wireless, which operates an iDEN-based ESMR network in several southern states, announced it will build a Long Term Evolution (LTE) network to meet the growing data needs of its largest customer, Southern Company's electric utilities.

 

Following the request for proposal (RFP) process, the project was awarded to Ericsson as the preferred provider for radio access network and evolved packet cores and to Cisco to provide the multiprotocol label switching equipment. Additional service and equipment awards may be announced at a later date.

 

Planning and design for the 4G network is now in progress. Construction will start in 2015, and the network should be fully operational by 2018. SouthernLINC Wireless will continue to operate its iDEN network for both Southern Company affiliate customers and its regional customer base and sell nationwide services through an agreement with a mobile virtual network enabler.

 

"Southern Company's utilities' need for high-speed data access continues to grow," said Don Horsley, SouthernLINC Wireless president and CEO. "Our best option to meet that need is to build a regional 4G LTE network for them.”

 

 

I found this rather interesting as I know the subject of SouthernLinc has come up on more than a few occasions here.

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What frequency are they going to be operating LTE on? Certainly not 800; my understanding is that they're leaving iDEN up and running forever.

It is the ESMR band. That's why construction won't begin for two years. The plan is to get people onto iDEN/GSM/UMTS or GSM/UMTS phones using the T-Mobile network as quickly as possible. Then they can gradually deploy the gear to iDEN sites and then shutdown iDEN and replace it with LTE on a market-by-market basis.

 

The plan is to move to GSM/UMTS/LTE handsets that will support the ESMR band for LTE. This ecosystem is going to be driven by Nextel in Latin America, principally.

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It is the ESMR band. That's why construction won't begin for two years. The plan is to get people onto iDEN/GSM/UMTS or GSM/UMTS phones using the T-Mobile network as quickly as possible. Then they can gradually deploy the gear to iDEN sites and then shutdown iDEN and replace it with LTE on a market-by-market basis.

 

The plan is to move to GSM/UMTS/LTE handsets that will support the ESMR band for LTE. This ecosystem is going to be driven by Nextel in Latin America, principally.

Is SouthernLinc the company that uses band 27?

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  • 1 year later...

I came across this article today on SouthernLINC's medium-term plans for LTE and iDEN (obviously this came out before announcing their tie-up with Sprint through the roaming hub): http://mccmag.com/onlyonline.cfm?OnlyOnlineID=448

 

Coupled with SouthernLINC joining up with RRPP, it looks like their roadmap is becoming clearer: the iDEN + GSM dual-SIM devices are an interim solution, with iDEN being migrated to the 1.5x1.5 outside of band 26 and/or into the 900 MHz range (Sprint may well have given SouthernLINC access to their dormant 900 spectrum to facilitate some of this).

 

This should free up a combined 10x10 between SouthernLINC and Sprint's holdings, which if current configuration holds up will probably be allocated as 3x3 LTE (SouthernLINC) - 1.4x1.4 1xA (Sprint) - 5x5 LTE (Sprint). Deploy Ericsson RRUS 11 B26 to match the existing iDEN footprint, with or without PCS 1x/band 25 and possibly band 41 as SouthernLINC sees fit. Once the majority of the new towers are live and existing sites retrofitted, SouthernLINC can start migrating customers to modern PTT-capable devices with VoLTE and CDMAone+WCDMA fallback.

 

The last trick up their sleeve: once iDEN is off completely, or at least all on 900, Sprint + SouthernLINC can reband their combined 800 ESMR as 1.4x1.4 1xA + 5x5 LTE + 5x5 LTE or 1.4x1.4 1xA + 10x10 LTE (my hunch is the former, since band 26 is the capacity band rather than the bandwidth band); band class 10 for CDMA starts at 806 MHz, so the CDMA carrier can go below band 26 leaving all 10x10 available for LTE in band 26.

 

Bottom line: both Sprint and SouthernLINC in this configuration should be very competitive with Verizon and AT&T in the SouthernLINC service area, and of course this buildout should also help additional RRPP partners CSpire and Public Service Wireless as well, although there will need to be some 700 and AWS sites constructed (likely on the same towers) for license preservation or organic buildout for them.

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Can't wait for the southern link rrpp coverage to fire up. It should be a really nice build out for rural ga.

Yes, Sprint native coverage is very bad in rural Georgia. I hope Solinc builds out Sprint's spectrum throughout Southern Co. service territory.

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The last trick up their sleeve: once iDEN is off completely, or at least all on 900, Sprint + SouthernLINC can reband their combined 800 ESMR as 1.4x1.4 1xA + 5x5 LTE + 5x5 LTE or 1.4x1.4 1xA + 10x10 LTE (my hunch is the former, since band 26 is the capacity band rather than the bandwidth band); band class 10 for CDMA starts at 806 MHz, so the CDMA carrier can go below band 26 leaving all 10x10 available for LTE in band 26.

 

 Does SOLinc have enough spectrum below 814Mhz to put a CDMA carrier throughout their territory?

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 Does SOLinc have enough spectrum below 814Mhz to put a CDMA carrier throughout their territory?

 

I may have misunderstood the rebanding. It's not clear who has/will have the licenses to the 812.5-813.5 and 857.5-858.5 area, which is referred to as the "expansion band" in the rebanding. As I understand it, non-public safety users in that band don't have to move, but they have a strong incentive to do so since they won't be protected from interference if they stay.

 

As far as I can understand things, when rebanding is done Sprint + SouthernLINC should hold everything between 813.5-824 MHz and 858.5-860 MHz in the southeast. That gives us 10.5x10.5 to play with, if nobody gets the expansion band. With carrier aggregation, probably the winning option would be three 3x3 LTE carriers and a 1xA carrier. With the expansion band, the plan above works.

 

The only other tricky thing I've noticed is that while officially BC10 does extend all the way to 806/851, the specs on Sprint's devices say "secondary 800" starts at 817/862 and may not actually be certified to operate on lower frequencies. If that's the case then the best that can be done is the "interim" arrangement of LTE 5x5 + LTE 3x3 + 1xA, at least until 1x is switched off, unless band 27 starts to find its way onto devices.

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I may have misunderstood the rebanding. It's not clear who has/will have the licenses to the 812.5-813.5 and 857.5-858.5 area, which is referred to as the "expansion band" in the rebanding. As I understand it, non-public safety users in that band don't have to move, but they have a strong incentive to do so since they won't be protected from interference if they stay.

 

As far as I can understand things, when rebanding is done Sprint + SouthernLINC should hold everything between 813.5-824 MHz and 858.5-860 MHz in the southeast. That gives us 10.5x10.5 to play with, if nobody gets the expansion band. With carrier aggregation, probably the winning option would be three 3x3 LTE carriers and a 1xA carrier. With the expansion band, the plan above works.

 

The only other tricky thing I've noticed is that while officially BC10 does extend all the way to 806/851, the specs on Sprint's devices say "secondary 800" starts at 817/862 and may not actually be certified to operate on lower frequencies. If that's the case then the best that can be done is the "interim" arrangement of LTE 5x5 + LTE 3x3 + 1xA, at least until 1x is switched off, unless band 27 starts to find its way onto devices.

 

 

My understanding was in that areas that had both SOLinc and Sprint, ESMR band starts at 814 instead of 817. SoLinc would be given from 814-817 and Sprint from 817-824. So you would have 3x3 SoLinc LTE, 5x5 Sprint LTE, and hopefully a CDMA 1xA carrier in Sprint's spectrum as well. But assuming Solinc still has some narrow band licenses below 814Mhz, they would be able to continue to run iDen from that spectrum?

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"Selects ericsson"... famous last words

 

Perhaps, but it should at least ensure interoperability with Sprint. I'm not sure how well the network would cope with a mix of Ericsson and Samsung or AlcaLu in the same area.

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Just out of curiosity, is there an extensive map of SoLinc towers anywhere to be found?

Most ..if not all of SoCo plants have on-site towers, but aside from those?

 

Considering all the substations for high-tension power lines dotted around, they have ideal areas to construct new sites. Most of their extremely rural substations have a huge satellite dish or 3.

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It's my understanding that only incumbents can stay in the SMR Expansion Band. No new licenses are to be granted there. If there is no license there now, and the area has completed Rebanding, then there would be no chance to get a license there.

 

SMR license holders were only permitted to move/stay in the Expansion Band if they have equipment that could not be used on the new lower frequencies but was usable in the Expansion Band frequencies and they weren't going to be able to complain about interference if the guard band was not enough to protect them. There have not been many who have chosen Expansion Band licenses by my last review.

 

Also, I believe wideband operations have not been authorized below 817/862. And I just don't think the FCC would consider it. So currently that would limit uses in the SMR Expansion Band to narrowband. Additionally, the Guard Band is not traversable by any licensee. 815/860 is the demilitarized zone. So I don't believe SoLinc can cross that to try to link spectrum assets on both sides.

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Also, I believe wideband operations have not been authorized below 817/862. And I just don't think the FCC would consider it. So currently that would limit uses in the SMR Expansion Band to narrowband. Additionally, the Guard Band is not traversable by any licensee. 815/860 is the demilitarized zone. So I don't believe SoLinc can cross that to try to link spectrum assets on both sides.

I'm not sure where SoLINC thinks they're going to run LTE if they can't put it below 817/862. They don't hold anything else in a standardized LTE band, and they say they're running LTE somewhere in 800. They may not have petitioned the FCC yet since they haven't started their rollout.

 

(Bear in mind this is the southeast, where the guard band is at 812/857, not 815/860.)

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