Sprint Bets on HPUE to Densify Network for 5G

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At least one Wall Street analyst is bullish about Sprint’s turnaround plan. That’s thanks to the carrier’s new high performance user equipment (HPUE) strategy.

Sprint executives earlier this week unveiled what they say is a way to optimize and densify the company’s 2.5 GHz wireless network by up to 30 percent, resulting in better coverage and faster data speeds in more locations. The result will nearly match the carrier’s mid-band 1.9 GHz spectrum performance, including indoors, where some 60 to 70 percent of wireless traffic is generated. Sprint says it has more than 160 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum in the top 100 U.S. markets.

Samsung, one of Sprint’s partners in the effort, is expected to support HPUE in devices slated for commercial launch in the first-half 2017.

Sprint’s new clear network strategy can accelerate its turnaround and strengthen its position to compete in a 5G world, according to Macquarie Securities analyst Amy Yong. “Network traffic doubles every 18 months, as consumers shift their video consumption to mobile devices. HPUE can satiate this demand by optimizing Sprint’s spectrum position,” writes Yong in a research report.

Backing up the new technology is a cycle of investing. “The network now comprises 45-50,000 macro sites and soon-to-be hundreds of thousands of small cells (positive for Crown Castle). Its 800MHz, 1900MHz, and 2.5GHz spectrum provide coverage, speed and indoor/outdoor performance,” says Yong. Seventy percent LTE PoPs are covered with 2.5GHz spectrum, which carries 40+ percent of Sprint’s data tonnage.

Sprint is deploying 2×20 carrier aggregation on 2.5GHz for faster speeds over the next two years (see chart above).

December 15, 2016

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