EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Sprint has long touted its massive trove of 2.5GHz spectrum, but COO of Technology Gunther Ottendorfer claims the airwaves will be an “ongoing differentiator” as operators begin deploying 5G.
The comment came as Ottendorfer discussed the operator’s plans for upcoming deployments of massive MIMO technology. Sprint announced at Mobile World Congress Americas earlier it successfully completed a massive MIMO trial with Ericsson in US city Seattle using a 128-element antenna. Sprint CTO John Saw indicated separately the operator is aiming to deploy the technology in the second half of 2018.
According to Ottendorfer, these early deployments will be made possible by the combination of Sprint’s 2.5GHz spectrum and Time-Division Duplex (TD) network structure.
“Massive MIMO is a technology that is easier implemented for TD-LTE networks and high band,” he explained, adding: “High band is an advantage that will not go away because of the wavelength and the 2.5 [massive MIMO] antenna has normal size. If you do it in mid-band or low-band, the size of antenna grows and you end up with a refrigerator or a car, it becomes impractical in deploying it. That’s why I believe it’s an ongoing differentiator for us.”
Ottendorfer also shared that Sprint’s network function virtualisation (NFV) journey is well underway, and revealed the operator has partnered with Metaswitch and Mavenir on a number of deployments.
More on how Sprint believes NFV will change the playing field for operators can be found here.