NEW YORK CITY – Sprint on Tuesday unveiled a new technology it said will help stretch its 2.5 GHz coverage further to provide customer with a better user experience.
Dubbed High Performance User Equipment (HPUE), Sprint said the innovation is a modem-level technology that works along with power level amplifiers and software optimization in user devices to enhance uplink coverage capabilities. In the field (and indoors, for that matter), Sprint said that will translate to customers remaining on 2.5 GHz coverage longer before falling back to its 1.9 GHz or 800 MHz spectrum.
Sprint CTO John Saw and COO Gunther Ottendorfer on Tuesday said HPUE can improve 2.5 GHz coverage by up to 30 percent, allowing it to cover 99 percent of the area covered by its 1.9 GHz spectrum outdoors and around 90 percent of its 1.9 GHz coverage indoors.
“What HPUE will do for us in the future with the customers getting those devices, it will make our 2.5 (GHz) like our midband, or very close to it,” Ottendorfer said. “Without changing anything on the network, customers will have better indoor performance, better cell edge performance, overall capacity will increase. So there’s a lot of advantages we get out of HPUE.”
So when will customers start to see the improvement?
Saw and Ottendorfer said HPUE is ready on the network today, but is mainly a device-based technology. They said Sprint has been working with partners throughout the device ecosystem – including chipset and handset vendors – to have the technology embedded in handsets that are expected to come to the market soon. HPUE will debut in devices in early 2017, starting with a “yet to be named Samsung flagship product,” they said. Other smartphone vendors that will be releasing HPUE-enabled devices include ZTE, LG, HTC, Motorola, and Alcatel.
Apple was noticeably absent from companies listed in Sprint’s slideshow, but Sprint’s Vice President of Device Development Ryan Sullivan said “multiple other parties” other than those listed on both the chipset and vendor side are involved with the technology, but timing on those releases is to be determined.
Sprint representatives said the carrier sees a path to HPUE being included in all new devices in the next two years.
According to Saw, the technology should have a “minimal” impact on a device’s battery life, and Sullivan noted the technology will actually reduce battery drain from switching between spectrum bands.
It should be noted that Sprint isn’t trying to hoard HPUE technology for itself.
The carrier said HPUE was approved for standardization by 3GPP on December 6 in Vienna, marking a major milestone on a journey that began back in late 2014 and setting the stage for Sprint to deploy the technology. It also, however, means the technology is open for use by other TDD carriers, including Asian telecom giant China Mobile.
Saw and Ottendorfer said HPUE technology plays nice with other advanced technologies on its network, like three carrier aggregation and 4×4 MIMO. And by combining those technologies – carrier aggregation, 4×4 MIMO, 256-QAM, and HPUE – Sprint said it can enable gigabit speeds on its network using licensed spectrum alone. That, Sprint said, will lay the foundation for 5G.
Speaking of three carrier aggregation and MIMO, Sprint noted an update will be made available “very, very early in 2017” to enable 3CA on popular devices like Apple’s iPhone and flagship devices from Samsung, HTC, LG, and Kyocera. A path is also in place to release a 3CA update for Google’s Pixel, Sullivan said. By the end of 2017, Sprint said it anticipates half of all its customers will have a 3CA-capable device in their hands.
Saw and Ottendorfer also said Sprint is hard at work on Massive MIMO, which it said can offer a capacity boost of up to 10x over traditional radios, and is currently testing a 64×64 Massive MIMO prototype. The technology is “coming soon” to Sprint’s network, they said.
Filed Under: Telecommunications (Spectrum)