The New Demand for Asymmetrical Networks
Oddly enough, though communication networks traditionally have been designed to support symmetrical bandwidth, and though fixed network access providers have tried to increase the return bandwidth performance of their networks, Sprint sees advantages in using an air interface (time division duplex) that can be configured asymmetrically.
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse noted that TDD allows a service provider to allocate maybe three or four times as much bandwidth to the downlink, compared to the uplink. As communication networks become dominated by entertainment content, that makes a big difference, as traffic flows start to look like functional content delivery networks (TV, radio, cable TV, satellite, web browsing).
Though communication networks still require symmetry of bandwidth, the huge proportion of bandwidth demand, not and in the future, will come from content delivery.
And though the outcome of 600 MHz auctions will not be known for some years, if Sprint only keeps pace with its major competitors (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile US), it will continue to own much more spectrum than any other mobile service provider.
Sprint says it will be able to support downstream speeds of perhaps 150 to 180 megabits per second at some point, by deploying its spectrum assets across three distinct bands, including spectrum reclaimed from the older 2G and 3G networks.
Sprint’s “Network Vision” project represents “a complete rip and replace of the entire network, all the 3G equipment coming out, every base station, all the backhaul, every switch, and in almost all cases the vendors changed as well,” according to Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, speaking at the UBS global media conference.
The scale of the network transformation project is something Hesse argues no other mobile carrier ever has attempted before, on this scale. But the upside for Sprint is clear enough.