August 22, 2018

We’ve talked a lot about “upgrading” our existing Sprint network towers. But what exactly does that mean?

A group recently joined Sprint CEO Michel Combes on a site visit to show him firsthand everything that goes into installing an antenna and radio assembly.

After all, Sprint is investing twice as much as it did last year in its Next-Gen Network, including improvements to existing 4G LTE service and the rollout of the first mobile 5G network in the U.S.

Just last week, Sprint and LG announced we are partnering to build the first 5G smartphone in the U.S. Plus, recent independent reports – including Speedtest Intelligence® data from Ookla® – show that Sprint’s 4G LTE is the most-improved network.

Network teams are working hard across the country to light up 2.5 GHz spectrum and improve the network experience for Sprint customers, taking full advantage of a network built for unlimited.

 

 

Lori Ames, Central region network vice president, Greg Nohalty, director-RF Engineering, and Todd Tobis, director-Site Development, walked Michel through a site upgrade in southern Johnson County, Kansas – not far from Sprint’s Overland Park campus in the Kansas City area. As they talked about the need to upgrade the tower, crew members climbed 130 feet to Sprint’s position on the tower while a rope-and-pulley hoist delivered the new radio to them.

Thanks to the crew’s efforts on a steamy, 95-degree day, this triband cell site now features three new 2.5 GHz radios, each with twice the number of transmitters and receivers as the original 2.5 GHz radio. This will provide area customers even faster speeds and a better data experience than before.

“This is fantastic,” Combes said. “Congratulations to all of our network teams. It is great to meet some of the hardworking people who work on our infrastructure and physical equipment that bring the Sprint network to life.”

When we upgrade our cell sites to use all three of our spectrum bands together, customers experience our most reliable service. Each band does something special:

  • 800 MHz extends our voice and data coverage into more locations than before, including indoors where most wireless traffic is generated.
  • 1.9 GHz is our broad coverage layer. It provides reliable voice and data service across our nationwide network.
  • 2.5 GHz provides customers super-fast data speeds so they can enjoy faster downloads than before, video streaming and all their favorite apps and services.

Our goal is to have most of our macro tower sites upgraded to triband by the end of this fiscal year. With the additional 2.5 GHz spectrum being used at this site – and at tens of thousands of sites across the country – we’re also using a using a technology called three-carrier aggregation. This bonds together bands of spectrum to essentially create a wider lane that allows more traffic to travel at higher rates.

After the crews install new equipment and add capacity, they adjust network parameters to deliver our best possible call quality and data speeds. Every base station has hundreds of configuration parameters that affect a customer’s voice and data experience, and each of these can be altered to change the behavior of the network.

Initial tests at this site showed a significant increase in average download speeds.

And as we lay the groundwork for our mobile 5G network, rolling out in the first half of 2019, we’ll deliver much faster data download and upload speeds than before, wider coverage and the ability to connect far more devices at the same time. But the truly exciting part is imagining everything the technology will enable – beyond virtual reality, augmented reality and the internet of things.

The Sprint network team is ensuring we have the right network in place to propel us one step closer to that 5G world.