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CTIA: Sprint building out 3G, lays out revision A plans


Sprint is accelerating its 3G rollout plans, committing to an covering an additional 40 million people in its EV-DO footprint by the end of the year and announcing plans to begin a networkwide upgrade to EV-DO revision A in the third quarter.

Sprint plans to have an EV-DO footprint covering 190 million people by the end, up from the roughly 150 million it last reported. Furthermore, Sprint plans to begin revision A upgrades to its current EV-DO networks by the end of third quarter when it plans to offer its first data card products. Sprint will give the industry its first look at the proposed network at CTIAís Wireless 2006 next week, demonstrating with the technology with one of its lead infrastructure vendors, Nortel Networks and PC card vendors Novatel Wireless and Sierra Wireless.

Revision A supports higher download rates of 3.1 Mb/s (up from 1.8 Mb/s), but its key benefit comes from the quality of service, latency and uplink capacity improvements that will enable the first end-to-end VoIP calls over a cellular network. The PC cards will enjoy the added downstream and upstream capacity (Sprint is estimating average throughputs of 450 kb/s to 800 kb/s on the downlink and between 300 kb/s and 400 kb/s on the uplink), but the real advantages of revision A wonít come until Sprint releases its first revision A-enabled phones, which will support not only VoIP but also high-capacity symmetrical applications like video conferencing.

Sprintís EV-DO and revision A rollouts will run concurrently after the third quarter, but it has not yet released a separate schedule for revision A upgrades. Sprint, however, is expecting the migration to go quickly. It predicts that almost the entirety of its CDMA network, covering 220 million people, will have both the EV-DO and revision A upgrades in place in third quarter of 2007, one year after revision Aís first launch.

Sprint and Verizon Wireless have been in a horse race to upgrade their networks. Though Verizon had a year head start, launching its first EV-DO network more than a year ahead of Sprint, the two are for the most part locked in a coverage tie, both with roughly half of the U.S. population covered in major metro markets. Verizon Wireless, too, has announced plans for revision A. It is currently undergoing tests with Lucent Technologiesof VoIP over revision A, but has not announced plans for full market trials or a timeline for network migration.


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