In a short, one paragraph statement, John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile US, put to rest years of negotiation and speculation, as he pronounced the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger dead.
“The prospect of combining with Sprint has been compelling for a variety of reasons, including the potential to create significant benefits for consumers and value for shareholders. However, we have been clear all along that a deal with anyone will have to result in superior long-term value for T-Mobile’s shareholders compared to our outstanding stand-alone performance and track record,” Legere said. “Going forward, T-Mobile will continue disrupting this industry and bringing our proven Un-carrier strategy to more customers and new categories – ultimately redefining the mobile Internet as we know it. We’ve been out-growing this industry for the last 15 quarters, delivering outstanding value for shareholders, and driving significant change across wireless. We won’t stop now.”
Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of Softbank Bank Group and Chairman of Sprint, had some explaining to do about the breakdown of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger talks yesterday during the company’s second quarter fiscal year 2017 earnings presentation. It seems that the talks, which dragged on for years, hinged on one key point. Control.
Son and the Softbank board of directors were hoping that the two companies would be equal partners, but T-Mobile wanted to keep management control of the resulting merged company.
“If we gave up control of Sprint, in five or 10 years, we would regret it,” Son said. “We want to maximize profit [in Sprint] while maintaining control.”
Speaking in front of a slide with a map United States with “Most Important Market” over it, Son made it clear that Softbank was not moving away from interest in Sprint. In fact, he announced the company’s investment in the carrier would be increased to 85 percent.
“The United States is the biggest market in the world,” Son said. “Now that we have a good base of our business built up in the United States, it should not be let go.” Even though in the short-term Sprint’s share price or Softbank’s share price may drop because of the failed merger, it may actually good for Softbank as it buys up Sprint’s stock.
Softbank, which has a semiconductor subsidiary that will deliver a trillion chips designed for IoT devices in the next 20 years, plans to take advantage of that expertise to compete in the U.S. machine to machine communications market.
“AT&T and Verizon have a dominant market share of [smart phone users]. They are ahead of us by a long way. It is not easy to exceed their base, without merging with T-Mobile,” Son said. “When it comes to IoT, we may be far advanced than the other carriers, because of our acquisition of Vodafone K.K. that established a business alliance with Yahoo! JAPAN in 2006.”
At Mobile World Congress Americas, Sprint and Ericsson announced the results of the first U.S. 2.5 GHz Massive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) field tests conducted in Seattle, Washington and Plano, Texas using Sprint’s spectrum and Ericsson’s 64T64R (64 transmit, 64 receive) radios. The two companies are preparing for commercial deployment next year, with Massive MIMO radios capable of increasing Sprint’s network capacity up to ten times.
Dr. John Saw, Sprint CTO, said, “Massive MIMO is a tremendous competitive advantage for Sprint, enabling us to maximize our deep 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings.”
Testing of Massive MIMO on the Sprint LTE Plus network in downtown Seattle showed a capacity increase of approximately four times compared to an 8T8R antenna. To showcase this capacity, Sprint convened 100 people with Samsung Galaxy S7 phones and ran simultaneous file downloads on a timed-test on all networks. The testing showed a 100 percent success rate on the Massive MIMO-powered Sprint network.
In Plano, Texas, Sprint and Ericsson also recently tested Ericsson’s 64T64R Massive MIMO radios reaching peak speeds of more than 300 Mbps using a single 20 MHz channel of 2.5 GHz spectrum.
For both field trials, Ericsson provided the radio network infrastructure and backhaul equipment. Sprint and Ericsson together developed the test cases and requirements, which included a variety of performance scenarios involving multi-user and non-stationary testing. The Radio Network infrastructure included Ericsson’s next-generation 5G-ready AIR6468 radio, and the backhaul equipment utilized the MINI-LINK 6352 R2 microwave radios which can provide up to 10 Gbps of backhaul, future proofing the network for 5G.
July 18, 2017 —
While the Washington Nationals easily handled the Seattle Mariners during a recent game, the real contest was between performances of the cellular networks and the Wi-Fi system as they battled to provide the best online experience.
During a recent major league baseball game at Washington Nationals Park, independent network benchmarking firm Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) conducted customer experience mobile network testing. The tests revealed that, both before and during the game, the Wi-Fi system excelled in the area of speed but fell behind cellular when it came to reliability.
Paul Carter, CEO GWS, said, “People want a reliable network with reasonable speed that works when you make a call, post a selfie, or load a video. If you’re at a major sporting event, you want to quickly take care of your online activities and watch the game not your phone.”
Before the game, the carriers’ data speeds for a 4 mb file upload (the size of a Snapchat video) ranged from 1 to 4 Mbps, according to Global Wireless Solutions, while the Wi-Fi network averaged speeds of 8 Mbps.
AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile also provided consistent speeds throughout the evening, while Verizon’s speeds dropped sharply during the game, according to GWS’ testing. For example, Verizon’s download speeds for watching a short video clip fell from 2.8 Mbps before the game to 1.6 Mbps during the game, before rising to 4.2 Mbps after the game
Wi-Fi Speed Crushes Cellular
During the game when the Park was the busiest, the Wi-Fi network was capable of delivering an average of roughly 32 Mbps, while the fastest cellular network, AT&T, averaged 25 Mbps.
“The $300-million program to bring Wi-Fi to every major league baseball park in the United States has brought in-seat connectivity into the 21st century,” the firm wrote. “When measuring potential capacity download throughputs, the Nationals Park Wi-Fi network was overall higher than those measured on cellular networks.
Cellular Owns Reliability
However, while the Park’s Wi-Fi was the quickest, it was not the most reliable. All the carriers were more reliable in completing data tasks, nearly 100 percent, while Wi-Fi was several percentage points behind.
“A consistent Internet experience is highly valued. Steady with reasonable speed is a better experience than a network which is fast, then becomes too slow to undertake some common tasks, then suddenly speeds up again,” Carter, said. “If you want to share a photo or send a video, you want your network to support that dependably. For some baseball fans, the WiFi network in the Park can provide a better experience than their own LTE connection.”
For voice calls AT&T, Sprint and Verizon all had 100 percent reliability with AT&T and Verizon using VoLTE the entire time. T-Mobile, also using VoLTE, wasn’t far behind, however, it did experience 1 in 12 calls failing before the game started.
June 21, 2017 —
Using Massive MIMO Samsung radios, equipped with vertical and horizontal beam-forming technology, Sprint achieved peak speeds of 330 Mbps per channel using a 20-megahertz channel at 2.5 GHz during field trials in South Korea. Capacity per channel increased about four times, cell edge performance increased three times and overall coverage area improved as compared to current radios.
Günther Ottendorfer, chief operating officer – technology, at Sprint, said. “Massive MIMO is a tremendous differentiator for Sprint because it is easily deployed on 2.5 GHz spectrum due to the small form factor of the radios needed for a high frequency band. In lower frequency bands, wavelengths are much longer and therefore the radios require much larger, impractical form factors. This makes Massive MIMO an important tool for unleashing our deep 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings.”
The Massive MIMO radios use 128 antenna elements (64 transmit, 64 receive) compared with 16 elements 8T8R antennas 8T8R (8 transmit, 8 receive) radios currently deployed by Sprint across its U.S. network. The purpose of the test was to compare the performance of Massive MIMO radios with 8T8R radios. The testing included multi-user and mobile user cases. Samsung provided the Massive MIMO network infrastructure, as well as the test network design, operation, data collection and processing. Both companies will use the results in preparation for commercial deployment of Massive MIMO in the U.S. and other markets.
In cities across the U.S., Sprint plans to deploy Massive MIMO radios with 128 antenna elements using its 2.5 GHz spectrum. In March, Sprint deployed Gigabit Class LTE on a live commercial network in New Orleans. There Sprint used three-channel carrier aggregation and 60 megahertz of 2.5 GHz spectrum, in combination with 4X4 MIMO and 256-QAM higher order modulation, to achieve Category 16 LTE download data speeds on a TDD network. With Massive MIMO radios using 64T64R, Sprint has the ability to push capacity beyond 1 Gbps to reach 3-6 Gbps per sector.