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Why is Sprint refusing to put 4G in Phoenix?

Journeyman

Why is Sprint refusing to put 4G in Phoenix?

I was thinking about setting a deadline where Sprint customers in Phoenix post their name in a discussion board demanding when 4G will be offically available in ALL of Phoenix (not this 4 spot crap).  If they do not answer by, lets say Oct 1st 2011, then a mass amount of subcribers will cancel (regardless of the stupid early termination fee). 

Journeyman

Why is Sprint refusing to put 4G in Phoenix?

I have a theory on the Sprint 4G delay in Phoenix.  Yes, it is rumor and speculation at it's finest.  But since Sprint refuses to provide information out there regarding Phoenix, we are left with nothing but conjecture.

As most wireless geeks know, Sprint and Clearwire used the Phoenix Metro area to run their LTE trials.  Since tower space is at a premium, if would guess they could not put up both WiMax and LTE antennas.  They could only do one, or the other.  If you had a Sprint LTE device, my guess is it would probably work all over Phoenix.  However, there is no such thing as a Sprint LTE device out on the market.  Sprint/Clear have been running their LTE tests since the beginning of the year.  There are misc. stories and posts about these trials in Phoenix all over the net.  I believe they are already complete, or wrapping up.

So this begs the question...what now?  Will they remove the LTE antennas off the towers and install WiMax antennas in their place?  Probably.  This would be my guess.  Or, do they do something really stupid and roll out Phoenix as the first 4G LTE market on Sprint since everything is in place already?  This would be crazy, because there are thousands and thousands of Sprint customers in the PHX metro area with WiMax devices that they couldn't really use.  So I would guess the first solution is most likely.

Either way, dissing such a large market like Phoenix has not been a wise move for Sprint/Clear.  Why couldn't they have picked a secondary or tertiary market to conduct these trials?  Either way, I believe the end is nigh and PHX will start getting some 4G love in the near future.  But probably one tower at a time.  Kepp looking for those Clearwire trucks!

Journeyman

Why is Sprint refusing to put 4G in Phoenix?

Yes nmherron I read that in the Android forms that phx will be the first LTE market. But i all so read that sprint wimax and LTE will be together in sprint. So I believe that customers have the choice to pick wimax or lte.I also have a theory that phoenix might be next to get wimax or lte whichever one because clearwire just announced at philadelphia and pittsburgh just got wimax. so philadelphia is the fifth largest city in the united states so I believe  phoenix is next because phoenix is the 6 largest city .so I believe that phoenix I get it soon

Journeyman

Why is Sprint refusing to put 4G in Phoenix?

droid12345 wrote:

Yes nmherron I read that in the Android forms that phx will be the first LTE market. But i all so read that sprint wimax and LTE will be together in sprint. So I believe that customers have the choice to pick wimax or lte.I also have a theory that phoenix might be next to get wimax or lte whichever one because clearwire just announced at philadelphia and pittsburgh just got wimax. so philadelphia is the fifth largest city in the united states so I believe  phoenix is next because phoenix is the 6 largest city .so I believe that phoenix I get it soon

In their Network Vision plan, they are setting it up that they can support LTE and WiMax simulatenously from the same site.  They are going to set up their "refrgierators" and backhaul for 1xRTT, EVDO, LTE and WiMax so they all can be deployed together.  This is true.  However, Sprint owns less than half of the towers that they currently use.  Most are owned by independent tower companies who lease out to many parties.  Sprint also leases some of their towers from competing carriers.  Sprint also leases out spare space on it's towers as well.  Additionally, I haven't ready anywhere that Phoenix will be the first LTE market open for Sprint, just that Sprint and Clearwire ran LTE trials in Phoenix to try out the technology in real world conditions to fully evaluate it.  This was done to determine whether they would even proceed with LTE at all.

This makes tower space availability a very complex issue, and the space available to put antennas is highly variable not only from city to city, but tower to tower.  Most urban towers are very well built out covered with lots of antennas.  In many of the towers that Sprint currently uses for service, there is no space available, or there may be only one "rung" available.  And most of these rungs are the lowest spot on a tower (least desirable in most deployments).  In most cases, Sprint would need two "rungs" available to deploy both LTE and WiMax on the same tower in dense urban environments.  In more rural applications, they could mix LTE and WiMax on the same rung (theorhetically).  That's if LTE and WiMax don't interfere with each other being that close together.

So after that long narrative, we're back to my wild educated guess about Phoenix deployment.  Even though they could provide the backhaul and equipment for both LTE and WiMax in Phoenix at each tower location, they probably did not have space on most of the towers in Phoenix to put up antennas for both at the same time.  I'm sure they could figure it out in the long term to get total deployment of both technologies over the entire Phoenix metro area, but there is considerable expense trying to lease additional tower space, serve notice of cancellation to other users who use your towers, build additional towers, etc.  And they are going to need to do that in the long term.  But if you are just wanting to run a 6 month trial, you probably wouldn't go through all that.  You would probably just put up the LTE on every tower that you have space available and get it done as soon as possible.

However, with all that said, I think doing it in Phoenix was not a good idea from a customer service stand point.  Phoenix is a mega-market, one of the largest in the country.  And as a result of their inability to roll out a 4G technology after 18 months, they have angered and alienated a lot of folks.  I think they should have chose one of the secondary markets they haven't deployed to yet, like Reno, Lexington or Dayton.  Then they could have focused on a full WiMax Phoenix deployment.  But what do I know?  Maybe I'm giving them too much credit, but I would hope there is a reasonable explanation like this.  Otherwise, it just makes it look like there are a bunch of lost sheep making very poor decisions over at Sprint.

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Journeyman

Why is Sprint refusing to put 4G in Phoenix?

I would also guess that they would roll LTE out to be seamless for Sprint customers.  Most likely they would do Dual 4G Chipsets in their devices, where it can run WiMax and LTE.  To the user, it would be seamless, they wouldn't know the difference. 

There is this big misconception that LTE is faster or better than WiMax.  It depends on how it's deployed.  WiMax at 2.5Ghz (in 5x5 channels) and LTE at 2.5Ghz (in 5x5 channels) would perform very equivalently.  If Sprint broadcasted WiMax at 800mhz in 20x20 channels, it would make Verizon's LTE look like a joke.  However, WiMax has not created standards for broadcasting on lower frequencies.

I often fantasize of Sprint utilizing the Nextel 800mhz band for 4G service along with 2.5Ghz.  800 mhz would allow for better penetration into buildings and sending the signals many miles out from towers.  2.5 Ghz would allow for dense urban use allowing many more users on board.  OK...I'm a dork and think too much.

Journeyman

Why is Sprint refusing to put 4G in Phoenix?

I honestly don't care whether the WiMax rollout here is in conjunction with an LTE rollout or not.

What I know is that I have been paying an extra $10 per month for a year for the privilege of...nothing.  Okay, technically, it take off the data cap on 3G, but that's not enough for $10/month.

I too was promised that 4G was only a month or two away when I bought my EVO at rollout last year.  There have supposedly been unofficial testing towers in place for a while, which I can't seem to get 4G service from, and it's been nearly a year since the first of those towers was rumored.

GET WITH IT, SPRINT.  Announce it and roll it out.  The 5th largest city and 14th largest metro area in the country should NOT have to take a backseat to so many much smaller locales that already have 4G.

Your customers are losing patience, and that's not a good thing when you may soon be dwarfed by two much larger companies if the T-Mobile sale goes through.

Journeyman

Why is Sprint refusing to put 4G in Phoenix?

Figured I would stop by and see how everyone is enjoying their 4G service in Phoenix… especially the ones that keep saying it's right around the corner.

Why is Sprint refusing to put 4G in Phoenix?

puce42 wrote:

I honestly don't care whether the WiMax rollout here is in conjunction with an LTE rollout or not.

What I know is that I have been paying an extra $10 per month for a year for the privilege of...nothing.  Okay, technically, it take off the data cap on 3G, but that's not enough for $10/month.

I too was promised that 4G was only a month or two away when I bought my EVO at rollout last year.  There have supposedly been unofficial testing towers in place for a while, which I can't seem to get 4G service from, and it's been nearly a year since the first of those towers was rumored.

GET WITH IT, SPRINT.  Announce it and roll it out.  The 5th largest city and 14th largest metro area in the country should NOT have to take a backseat to so many much smaller locales that already have 4G.

Your customers are losing patience, and that's not a good thing when you may soon be dwarfed by two much larger companies if the T-Mobile sale goes through.

I lost my patience a long time ago with Sprint and the secrecy. The tower I use is in the 2nd largest incorporated city in LA County, no WiMax for us, no plan to put it here. Be thankful at least you can access it by driving a few miles, I would have to drive at least 30 miles in traffic, which takes about an hour if I wanted to. Sprint is not getting the hint folks are frustrated and fed up, they called me, tried to sell me an EVO 3D and get me to renew my contract. I told them when they put 4G here I might think about it. The answer was, we are rolling it out to new areas everyday, my answer was, according to Clear there are no plans to put it here. I then get the song and dance about if I traveled to a 4G city I would be able to use it. The rollouts they are doing now seem like they are throwing a dart at a map to choose it, and there seems to be no plan, or at least not one that can be grasped by customers.

I would not count on Sprint or Clear responding to complaints of why it isn't somewhere, or when it will be. After talking to retentions, I can understand why the frustration of no 4G, but I have a VZW phone and so far so good, and they did announce their plan for here, and I get LTE Coverage. I don't need unlimited data, so I may be porting all 4 lines over shortly. I have been with Sprint for years, a loyal customer, but in the last few years it seems their loyalty lies elsewhere, and they are becoming the same as the competition. Sprint keeps saying it is in their business interest to keep it a secret, but the competition started sending out mail 6 months in advance of their deployments letting everyone know what they were doing in the area. My guess is Sprint has never sent anything out in advance, and it seems they don't send anything out when they put a site online. Makes you wonder if Sprint is trying to hide the fact the competition has passed them, think keeping subcribers in the dark will keep them as subscribers, or they have no idea what they are doing.

Journeyman

Why is Sprint refusing to put 4G in Phoenix?

It does look like they are throwing darts at a map!  LOL

The real story about the bizarre city selection is that Clearwire is scrambling to put up at least one tower in all 700+ Cellular Market Areas (CMA's) in the country.  Their licenses with the FCC are up for renewal soon, and they will not be able to renew their license in a CMA if they never offered service during their intial license period.  Here is the language in the license:

  • Licensees holding authorizations in the new reallocated EBS bands, must, as a performance requirement, make a showing of “substantial service” in their Cellular Market Area license within the prescribed license term set forth in §27.13. “Substantial service” is defined as service which is sound, favorable and substantially above a level of mediocre service which just might minimally warrant renewal. Failure by any licensee to meet this requirement will result in forfeiture of the license and the licensee will be ineligible to regain it.

Clearwire is banking on that one operational tower in each CMA will be considered substantial service.  I would define it as mediocre service.  We'll see how all this plays out.  Could get very interesting!

Meanwhile, Sprint owns about half of those licenses and lent them to Clear as part of the joint venture.  Orignially, Sprint was employing it's own service through it's subsidiary Xohm.  But when the purchased a stake in Clear in 2008, Sprint gave over their licenses to them.  Worth billions of dollars.  And now they might lose those licenses if they don't provide "substantial service."  What a farce!

Why is Sprint refusing to put 4G in Phoenix?

I don't doubt Clear is trying to keep the licenses, but it seems like Clear has no plan, Sprint is flushing money their way, and there does not seem to be much flowing once it hits Clear. It is understandable they want to keep the licenses, but for neither of them to see it coming and scrambling to get it done just shows there was a lack of planning for the rollout. Let's all hope those of you in an area that has it, or is slated to get it will at some point, and LightSquared won't repeat the same scramble to light something up because we didn't plan that one day we would have to renew, if you buy that story, I think it is a scramble to say we are in x number of markets. I am also doubting the FCC will deny any of renewals, all of the spectrum we are talking about was auctioned and Sprint/Clear paid a hefty buck for it, so I doubt you will see any revocations. UPS has held nationwide spectrum licenses for years, never used it, and have renewed the licenses a few times. AT&T is in the same boat as UPS, they have held licenses for huge chunks of spectrum and have renewed them a few times and have never transmitted on it anywhere. Just another day in the give us an excuse why we are so far behind and we hope you will bite on this IMHO.

Journeyman

Why is Sprint refusing to put 4G in Phoenix?

Great points.  I also believe that the FCC will not hold their feet to the fire, as long as Sprint/Clear continue to do something.  And as woefully pathetic as it is, they are doing "something."  It just doesn't amount to much for us Sprint customers.

The FCC gave the EBS Spectrum holders (which is just Sprint and Clearwire holding all 150 MHz) four years on their initial licenses to roll out service.  Those licenses were obtained in 2008.  Interestingly, the FCC is only giving LightSquared 2 years to do the same thing in the L Band.  And the clock is already ticking.  Although, I'm sure LightSquared is certain to ask for an extension because of the GPS delay.

Journeyman

Why is Sprint refusing to put 4G in Phoenix?

I was already guessing my 3G speed drops (from 2MB to 100 KB) was becasue of the 4G conversion and I was right!

I see my house is right in the middle of the best 4G coverage per clear.com.

+10 for getting 4G to my area

-5 for slowing 3G
-10 for paying to upgrade my device

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