2014 poised for even greater multi-mode multi-band device innovation
January 22, 2014
By Dr. John Saw, SVP Technical Architecture, Sprint

As we kick off a new year it’s amazing to look back at the development of LTE - a now mainstream technology that has experienced the fastest development cycle in the history of mobile.  According to a January 2014 Global Mobile Suppliers Association report, 263 commercial networks and more than 1,240 user devices of various form factors have been launched, giving consumers around the world unprecedented peak throughputs and low latencies, and spurring the development of new applications.

Multi-mode, multi-band devices are now a key aspect of this development, allowing operators to better control migration of their 2G/3G networks to LTE while offering consumers seamless connectivity. Throughout 2013 support for TDD LTE continued to strengthen, with more than 274 devices worldwide now supporting this mode of operation. With the imminent commercial launch of TDD LTE networks in China, TDD LTE Band 41 (2.496 - 2.690 GHz) is now a common band of operation in three of the largest economies of the world: United States, China, and Japan. And it was of course exciting to see Apple announce that its iPhone 6 product line will support both FDD and TDD LTE in some SKUs. As prominent device makers add more bands to their products, consumers benefit from global roaming support, as well as the lower prices that economies of scale can provide.

Sprint has worked diligently to develop and mature the LTE ecosystem, and obtain feature parity between FDD and TDD LTE. With Sprint Spark we launched our first set of multi-mode, multi-band devices supporting CDMA, and FDD and TDD LTE. These smartphones, hotspots, and USB dongles support FDD LTE Band 25 (1900 MHz) and Band 26 (800 MHz), and TDD LTE Band 41 (2.5 GHz).  

With Sprint Spark™, consumers are seeing enhanced wireless peak speeds of 50-60Mbps when operating in TDD LTE Band 41, while maintaining seamless LTE connectivity between TDD cells and the expanded coverage areas served by FDD LTE bands. And we expect to deliver even greater speeds in the future, potentially offering a network speed advantage over most U.S. competitors by 2015, and surpassing the entire U.S. industry in speed capability in 2016. First things first though – in the next few months we are planning to roll out some foundational building blocks for Sprint Spark, including the continent’s first 8 transmit 8 receive (8T8R) system, as well as carrier aggregation as we seek to cover 100 million people with Sprint Spark service by the end of 2014. 

I’m excited to see what 2014 will bring to consumers and the LTE ecosystem as spectrum layering and multi-band devices proliferate. If CES was any indication, I expect the pace of innovation to only increase as the wireless industry develops even faster, more intelligent and seamless networks to support advances such as 4K devices and applications.
  • Dr. John Saw