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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  • RU482 - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    Ooo, and this
  • Nehemoth - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    Thank you
  • SunLord - Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - link

    If you live within 100KM of the Canadian border you will never get an 800MHz signal because Canada hasn't reallocated the spectrum to be inline with Sprins nor are there any solid plans to yet. The same is also true with Mexico but they're working on it and are expected to be ready around 2016. So if you with-in 100KM of an international border not 800MHz building penetrating signals for you.
  • Impulses - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    Interesting... There seems to be an issue with 800MHz deployment in Puerto Rico as well, though it's obviously not border related, being an island and all...
  • DeeEllEff - Thursday, October 31, 2013 - link

    Just released Nexus 5 supports the new Sprint "Spark" tri-mode LTE on bands 25, 26 and 41.
  • edi_opteron - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    Very disappointing from such a great tech blog that still doesn't know it's NOT Nokia Siemens Network, aka NSN, Nokia has bought Siemens's stake and it's now under Nokia's control , it remained as NSN but now stands for Nokia Solutions and Network .. You can show some love to Nokia! It won't bite you after all. Be up to date ! Please.
  • Hrel - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    Unfortunately Sprint is the only network I can use. Virgin Mobile is owned by Sprint and is the only carrier that offers unlimited data and texting for 35/month. I would LOVE it if Verizon offered a prepaid service like that for that price, or even a little more honestly. I hate all the restrictions and games these ISP's play. I just want a nice phone, the option to buy it without a contract, and to not get financially RAPED to have the service turned on. WHY IS THAT SO HARD!?

    Once the network is built their profit margin's are nearly 100%. There's no reason 4GB of 4G LTE service needs to be 100+/month. But the only way that's ever going to change is if people STOP PAYING THAT MUCH for it. Just do without for a while, they'll lower their prices if everyone just boycotts their overpriced asses.
  • critter13 - Friday, November 1, 2013 - link

    what chips support band 41? are there phones out there currently that could access this band with a software update?
  • YoshoMasaki - Sunday, November 3, 2013 - link

    Softbank in Japan uses this band for TDD-LTE already. I don't know if their other bands work with Sprint's other bands but you can ask about Japanese phones here:
  • rjwerth - Monday, November 4, 2013 - link

    Spark??? Heck, Sprint went down in complete flames years ago in the Detroit area. Still doesn't work!

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