Today Sprint announced the official name for its new tri-band LTE network, Sprint Spark. For those who have been following operator rollouts of LTE in the US, today's announcement from Sprint doesn't come as much of a surprise – it's been planning on running LTE on bands 25, 26, and 41 (1900 MHz, 850 MHz, and 2.5 GHz) for a while now. We've seen a few tri-band handsets pop up recently destined for Sprint, I noted the HTC One max was a tri-band Sprint LTE device in disguise in my review earlier this week, and fellow wireless aficionado Andrew Shepherd caught the LG G2 also packing tri-band Sprint LTE. Today as part of its Spark announcement, Sprint explicitly named the One max, G2, S4 Mini, and Galaxy Mega as its first tri-band smartphones. Sprint's first Spark markets are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Tampa and Miami.

Sprint previously was running 5 MHz FDD-LTE on Band 25 which gave it a maximum downstream throughput of 36 Mbps. Today as part of the announcement Sprint has both made LTE rollouts on bands 26 and 41 official, and has stated it has the spectrum for between 50-60 Mbps of downstream throughput. My expectations are one or more 20 MHz TDD-LTE carriers on Band 41 and up to 5 MHz FDD-LTE on Band 26 depending on the market from Sprint.

I'm not entirely certain, but it's likely they're referring to a 20 MHz TDD-LTE carrier on Band 41 for their '50-60 Mbps' claim since that number seems closely aligned with the 63 Mbps downlink, 17 Mbps uplink configuration I've seen given for Qualcomm's Category 3 modems. Moving forward Sprint apparently demonstrated up to 1.3 Gbps of throughput using carrier aggregation and 8x8 MIMO which begins with LTE-Advanced (3GPP release 10). Sprint has gone with Alcatel Lucent, Nokia Solutions, and Samsung Mobile for its Sprint Spark 8x8 Band 41 deployment.

At present the tri-band handsets that have been mentioned don't support those intra or inter band carrier aggregation combinations, or 8x8 MIMO, but rather single carrier operation with the more pragmatic 2x2 MIMO configuration.

Source: Sprint, Sprint

 

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  • beepboy - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    Until they upgrade the backhaul I don't think it'll make much difference. Sounds like a marketing gimmick. Reply
  • drexnx - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    No, this is obviously the public name for "Network Vision" which was a whole-stock replacement of their existing cobbled-together baseband infrastructure. Reply
  • GaryJ51 - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    Same old Sprint - heavy on promise of something never delivered to but a small segment in selected markets. I still have trouble getting a decent 3g signal 99% of the time. Reply
  • Samus - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    That's the trouble with Sprint. If you don't have LTE, their 3G is as bad as it gets. It hasn't been upgraded or improved since it was built in 2002-2003 and branded PCS Vision. A decade ago it was ahead of its time, but when you look at what T-Mobile can do to 3G, it's painfully obvious Sprint really screwed up initially bedding with WiMax. Reply
  • Impulses - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    They actually ARE improving their 3G network alongside all these LTE developments... Puerto Rico was one of the second tier LTE markets and I've seen a marked improvement in areas where I still don't get LTE (I seem to live in the one area of the island where LTE coverage is still somewhat thin). Reply
  • lwatcdr - Thursday, November 07, 2013 - link

    Yes I am in an area with "4g LTE" except they have only upgraded about 50% of the towers here. No LTE at my house. No LTE at the local movie theater, no LTE at the Local Mall or the theater at the mall. There coverage map of course shows it all nice and LTE but it is a lie. This sounds great but Sprint needs to finish the roll outs before they say it is done and produce honest coverage maps. Reply
  • t_newt - Thursday, December 19, 2013 - link

    No coverage in the movie theater? Why are you using your phone in the theater? Turn it off so we can enjoy the movie!

    (Just joshing).
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    8x8 MIMO... Even as big as phones have been getting, won't packing that many antennas into a phone be hard to do? Reply
  • kirsch - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    I left Sprint a few weeks ago because of their horribly spotty coverage (LTE and otherwise) in Austin. Whenever I did have service, the speed was horrendous. And the bad service made my battery last only a few days, even just sitting unused.

    I'm now on T-Mobile and so far it has been great. And cheaper.
    Reply
  • Cinnabuns - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    I had a similar experience as you in San Diego. The coverage was actually fine, but the speeds were always horrendous.

    I paid the early termination fee (with most of it recouped via a discounted final month after I told them I've kept an entire year's worth of speed test logs) to get rid of Sprint and switched to T-Mo last year. It's cheaper and faster around these parts and I haven't looked back.
    Reply

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