Feature Article

December 11, 2013

Sprint Sees 150 to 180 Mbps Ahead for its LTE Service

If you have enough spectrum, Long Term Evolution (LTE) speeds can reach 150 Mbps to 180 Mbps or more. And that might be possible on Sprint’s network eventually, as Sprint completes the national rollout of its “Spark” service, allowing devices to use spectrum including 800 MHz, 1.9 GHz and 2.5 GHz in the top 100 U.S. markets.

In the near term, over the next three years, speeds are likely to reach 50 Mbps to 60 Mbps, according to Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO.

Sprint Spark (Sprint’s LTE service) is currently rolling out in parts of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Tampa.

Hesse said that Spark is available in around 25 percent of those initial markets. Eventually, says Hesse, Sprint could bond together two 60 MHz channels at 2.5 GHz, allowing Sprint to deliver speeds of 150 Mbps to 180 Mbps.

Sprint expects to cover 200 million potential users with LTE on its 1.9 GHz spectrum by the end of 2013. By mid-2014 that should grow to 250 million potential customers.

Image via Shutterstock

Sprint further has started deploying LTE in its 800 MHz spectrum, now available because of the shutdown of the Nextel iDEN network.

Sprint will have 150 million POPs covered with 800 MHz LTE by the end of 2014.

In the 2.5 GHz spectrum band, Sprint expects to cover 100 million people with LTE by the end of 2014.

The Spark network is a “tri-band” service that switches between Sprint's 800MHz, 1.9GHz and 2.5GHz frequency bands, depending on a user’s location and apps in use.

Given enough spectrum and use of LTE-Advanced, speeds up to 1 Gbps are theoretically possible.

So far, U.K.’s EE has said it will introduce LTE-A, supporting 300 Mbps, across London in 2014.

The desire to supply such speeds is one reason why mobile service providers are looking for additional spectrum. As more such spectrum is aggregated, the more feasible mobile broadband will become a reasonable substitute for fixed network access, for some users and applications.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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