Sprint will deploy its 4G LTE network early next year and has already started to deploy the required equipment, CNET reported on Tuesday. Reportedly, Sprint is also already testing the network, although sources speaking to CNET did not reveal where the tests were occurring. The move is enabled by Sprint’s “Network Vision” plans, which it first discussed in December 2010. During our recent tour of Sprint’s facilities in Overland Park, Kansas, when Sprint CEO Dan Hesse confirmed that the carrier’s 4G plans would be discussed this fall, we were able to snap a few photos of an Ericsson E-Node Base Transceiver System (BTS). Sprint explained at the time that, should it decide to move to an LTE network, engineers just had to add an LTE card to the BTS and perform the required tests to get a new network up and running. Sprint has also already announced a deal with Lightsqured to deliver 4G LTE support to its customers, although it has not yet been discussed when the roll-out will occur. BGR will be attending a Sprint “Strategy Update” in New York City on October 7th where we expect to hear more about Sprint’s future 4G plans. More →
Earlier today we gave you a glimpse at Sprint’s Overland Park campus, its Usability Lab, the Sprint Technology Integration Center and the carrier’s Mobile Technology Lab. Within that Mobile Technology Lab is a huge amount of fascinating equipment that we were not allowed to photograph. One box Sprint was happy to let us snap, however, was the Ericsson E-Node Base Transceiver System (BTS) pictured above. These devices find themselves at the center of Sprint’s forward-looking network efforts. Dubbed “Network Vision,” Sprint is in the process of upgrading and future-proofing its network — at least, to the extent a network can be future-proofed at this point. The E-Node BTS you see above and in the gallery below is an amazing advancement that will enable Sprint to realize this vision. The vertical “cards” you see pictured can be inserted and removed as easily as servers in a rack. Each one of these cards enables a network technology and is connected to an antenna cluster. So, for example, if Sprint was to reach a deal that would allow a partner to build out 4G LTE on Sprint’s network, Sprint engineers could simply add the appropriate LTE card to the BTS and off we go. Of course this is a bit oversimplified as there is plenty of intensive testing involved, but this is a monumental leap forward, and one that we hope will be adopted by other major carriers in the U.S. Sprint’s Network Vision program really is the future of the carrier’s network, and the technology and facilities behind it are incredible. Check out the gallery below for a closer look at the E-Node BTS.