Sprint has unveiled a new networking technology called HPUE (High Performance User Equipment) designed to extend the physical range and quality of its 2.5GHz network, bringing it close to the company's existing 1.9GHz spectrum. Sprint has considerable spectrum at the 2.5GHz point of the frequency scale where it benefits from relatively high speeds but the higher the frequency, the lower the effective range as the signal penetrates buildings and solid objects less readily compared with lower frequencies. According to Sprint's analysis, the new technology will extend 2.5GHz coverage indoors as well as outdoors and follows two years of effort biased towards increasing the uplink coverage of its Band 41 devices.
Sprint worked closely with the Global TDD-LTE Initiative (GTI) and other cellular networks including China Mobile and parent carrier SoftBank, plus hardware companies including Broadcom, MediaTek, Alcatel, Motorola, LG, Qorvo, Qualcomm, Samsung, and ZTE. The new technology has been approved through the standards process and 3GPP certification was granted in early December 2016 and according to Sprint's material, will bring with it important advantages both for current generation networking and next-generation, or 5G, technologies. Sprint already has considerable experience operating its 2.5GHz network where it operates 250 LTE Plus markets, that is, where the company is utilizing at least 40MHz of 2.5GHz spectrum for two channel carrier aggregation. The company offers three-channel carrier aggregation, using 60MHz of spectrum, in certain markets including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco and the company explains it has 160MHz of 2.5GHz spectrum available in the top one hundred US markets.
Spring's press release reports that their 2.5GHz network is ready for the initial deployment of HPUE technologies, but also notes that devices supporting the new Band 41 HPUE will be launched next year. As such, customers may need to update their device in order to benefit from the enhanced 2.5GHz network. Meanwhile, Sprint also discusses its "surgical network improvement" policy of bolstering the network where needed. Over the last year the company has spent considerably less on upgrading its network compared with the other three network operators but according to the independent measurement and analytics firm, RootMetrics, during a comparison before and after Sprint's small cell network densification project between August and November 2016, the network showed "significant increases in our median download and upload speeds." You can find out more about HPUE in the YouTube link below.