Rough details of US cellco Sprint Nextel’s upcoming LTE network launch in Puerto Rico have been revealed. Forming part of Sprint’s multi-billion-dollar ‘Network Vision’ upgrade programme, the Puerto Rican and US Virgin Islands section of the project is scheduled to be implemented over the period April to November 2012, and dedicated Sprint blog site S4GRU says that the operator is likely to launch live 4G services in Puerto Rican capital San Juan around August. According to internal company information and maps obtained by the site, Sprint’s technology partners including Samsung and subcontractors are beginning work on the first 22 network sites this month, with upgrades in the area surrounding San Juan set to be largely complete by the end of September. Overall, there are 252 network sites earmarked for Sprint’s Network Vision/LTE rollout in Puerto Rico, and plans are thought to envisage national coverage of the island within a year or so of launch, offering over 90% of the population LTE access. The upgrade involves an integration of legacy CDMA and LTE into one Multi-modal Base Station (MMBS) and one antenna using the company’s existing 1900MHz spectrum band, replacing the CDMA2000 1x/1xEV-DO network configuration currently operated. Sprint also holds an 800MHz licence in Puerto Rico – a legacy concession of Nextel’s US-wide iDEN network operations, but so far unused – which would enable it to roll out wider LTE/CDMA coverage. While a plan is under way to re-use Nextel’s 800MHz frequencies for LTE across the US, there have been no plans announced yet for 800MHz deployment in Puerto Rico, although it is speculated that Sprint could start rollout of 800MHz services on the island in 2014.
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