4G Roll out coming more into focus
Last modified on Monday, 03 August 2009 10:16
While Sprint has been very short on specifics on their roll out of WiMAX, they are going to have to quicken the pace on getting WiMAX rolled out if they want to be a serious player in the 4G market space. LTE, which is what the majority of the carriers in North America have opted to support, will start early trials in North America in very late 2009 with the LTE roll out in North America expected to move forward in 2010.
As for Sprint, the decision to go with WiMAX has received a lot of attention, as the company has not been able to deliver some parts on building as much WiMax infrastructure as they would have liked. While Baltimore, Maryland has been up and running since December of 2008, little progress has been made on bringing other cities online beyond some local testing in several cities.
From what our sources are telling us, on our about August 16th, we can expect Sprint to announce WiMAX availability in Portland Oregon; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Atlanta, Georgia. All three of these new markets are on track and should get WiMAX turned up, but it is unknown exactly how much coverage will be available in each city; it is a safe bet that at least to start with it will be confined to the downtown areas in these cities.
Before the end of the third quarter, Sprint is looking to have WiMAX service up and running in Bellingham, Washington; Boise, Idaho; West Texas; Milledgeville, Georgia; and Salem, North Carolina. Again, we suspect that as with the cities to arrive in August, the coverage in these cities will again be confined to the downtown areas to start with and then they will push coverage from there.
Fourth quarter looks to be an even bigger one for Sprint, with WiMAX deployments scheduled to launch in Chicago, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas; Raleigh, North Carolina; Greensboro, North Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; and San Antonio, Texas. As you can see by the selection of these cities, many of the cities are building upon the cities that near cities previously rolled out in August as well as the third quarter.
One thing that is also interesting is that Sprint seems to have a big focus on the North Carolina area, which is home to many of the racing teams involved with NASCAR. Since Sprint has such a big partnership with NASCAR, we have to suggest that Sprint might be planning to leverage this relationship to help market WiMAX, as NASCAR fans are very loyal and brand conscious, and this could be helpful to Sprint as they try to roll out this new technology.
Baltimore, Maryland will also get a refresh with updated WiMAX gear in the fourth quarter, as well as some additional coverage expansion, according to our sources. Right now in Baltimore the WiMAX coverage is primarily limited to the downtown area, and depending on where exactly you are will dictate the kind of performance that you will get. The update is expected to improve both performance and connectivity issues.
Sprint has been very unwilling to talk about the exact timing of their rollout schedule and will not even talk about specifics to customers when they ask. What is surprising, from the latest info that are sources are sharing with us, is that the selection of markets happens to be a bit on the strange side. While some of the bigger markets are clearly there, some of the smaller market selections will surely leave many scratching their heads.
It is amazing that Sprint would not want to launch in some of the other bigger cities prior to some of these smaller ones. It seems odd that Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose or even New York are not on this list this year; but it looks like if you live in North Carolina, Sprint is going to have you really covered before the end of the year. Pricing is still an issue for WiMAX on Sprint, with an $80 charge for unlimited WiMAX connectivity, but 3G connectivity on the plan is capped at 5GB per month.