Some new information has come to light about Sprint's plans for network improvement and 5G, thanks to a newly released interview with the company's COO of Technology, Gunther Ottendorfer. In the interview – which took place on March 8, Ottendorfer outlines what strategy the company has been using to identify network problems and to fix them, as well as how owning so much of the 2.5 GHz spectrum is helping Sprint get an edge on the competition. Sprint may often be portrayed as something of an underdog in the U.S. mobile market, but it certainly isn't letting anything other than confidence show.
Ottendorfer begins the interview by saying that Sprint has been and will continue to actively improve its network reliability and availability via two main methods. First, the company compares its network performance to industry benchmarks and compares those measurements to its own network. Ottendorfer claims that significant improvements have already and will continue to be made because the approach allows Sprint to "surgically" improve its network with a focus on areas where that network underperforms. In addition to that targetted approach, Ottendorfer goes on to say that the company is also continuing to roll out more and more of its LTE Plus network. LTE Plus is Sprint's branding for LTE-A, which incorporates advanced features such as beamforming and carrier aggregation. For the unaware, beamforming is used to focus signal transmissions, while aggregation makes use of multiple wavelengths or bands simultaneously – effectively splitting a device's network load.
In addition to the improvements that Sprint has been making across its network, the company is also highly focused on pushing its network advancements toward a 5G future. In fact, Ottendorfer says that the 2.5 GHz spectrum the company is currently trialing, as well as the LTE-A and TD-LTE 4G technologies already deployed, will form the "low-band" base for 5G. By combining its 2.5 GHz spectrum trials with 28 GHz and 73 GHz trials, Sprint is also able to learn "really high band spectrum and all the physical limitations" to those higher bands. That should allow for further carrier aggregation in the future, allowing the network to continue growing "with the capacity demand" of its customers. Ottendorfer continued, touting that Sprint's consistent unlimited offerings over the past decade give the company a leg-up in competing against its rivals. If all of the company's plans fall into place, Sprint should be more than ready when 5G is finally standardized enough to begin rolling out.