Sprint CEO Dan Hesse is predicting two years from now customers on Sprint’s newly launched Spark LTE network will see speeds of 150 to 180 Megabits per second (Mbps). That’s three times what Sprint in October said the new tri-band LTE (800 MHz, 1.9 GHz and 2.5 GHz) network was capable of in peak speed conditions.
Speaking at a UBS conference, Hesse said what makes those speeds possible is 8T8R (8 transmit, 8 receive) technology on the base station, 4x2 downlink MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) on the device side, but most importantly, he gave credit for the speed boost to the carrier aggregation that will bunch the 2.5 into fatter, faster pipes.
“So the peak speeds that we can offer now, basically 50 to 60 megabits per second, in two years will be more like 150 to 180 megabits per second because we have 120 MHz of spectrum on Clearwire and what we are able to do is rather than have a whole bunch of 20s, slap them basically into two big mass of 60s that can go really, really fast and that's leading-edge technology,” Hesse said, according to Seeking Alpha’s transcript.
The coverage plan for 2.5 GHz stayed on the same schedule, with 100 million POPs expected by the end of 2014.
Hesse confirmed that a tri-band LTE Samsung Galaxy S4 is almost ready and should go to market before the holidays, making it the sixth tri-band LTE-compatible handset from the carrier.
As for the progress in the 800 MHz, Hesse said the HD voice coverage in that spectrum will be largely done by mid-2014 and that LTE in 800 MHz should hit approximately 150 million POPs by the end of 2014.
On the subject of buddying up to Lightsquared or Dish Network, Hesse reaffirmed CFO Joe Euteneuer’s comments from September about Sprint’s openness to network sharing. He said that the flexible updates occurring throughout Sprint’s network means that kind of sharing could happen with minimal tower work. In 2011, Sprint signed a 15-year LTE network sharing deal with Lightsquared before spectrum interference issues drove Lightsquared into bankruptcy.