Sprint and T-Mobile in plans to expand networks with small cells

By:
Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

AT&T and Verizon rivals announce programmes to expand coverage using small cell networks

Sprint and T-Mobile US have announced plans to improve access to their networks using dense arrays of small cells across the US.

T-Mobile was first off the mark by announcing plans to deploy 28,000 small cells. Now Sprint says it has a solution to turn Cisco WiFi units into small cells for 4G mobile services.

“This innovative LTE small cell literally clips onto existing Cisco WiFi infrastructure and can be deployed in less than 30 minutes, providing a very cost-effective way to rapidly improve indoor service,” said Robert Kingsley, director of small cell and WiFi development at Sprint.

Speaking yesterday at the SCWS Americas – formerly Small Cells World Series – conference in San Jose, California, he added: “We’re excited to keep expanding our toolbox of small cell solutions with this latest innovation for the enterprise.”

T-Mobile’s announcement a few days before came from Karri Kuoppamaki, the former Nokia executive who is now vice president of technology development and strategy. Speaking at the Next-Gen Wireless Networks Summit in Dallas, Texas, he said small cells were T-Mobile’s plan to reduce dependence on large-scale towers.

The figure of 28,000 appears to refer to short-term deployments and the target should be achieved by early 2018, according to reports of Kuoppamaki’s speech.

Kuoppamaki said that “the best way” to deploy small cells is “to partner with fibre providers”, which will install the cells and connect them to their fibre networks. “That is a very efficient way to actually get to the point when you go from having a few to having tens of thousands in the network,” he said.


Sprint, T-Mobile’s great rival for the third and fourth positions in a US market dominated by AT&T and Verizon, said it was using a solution from Corning subsidiary SpiderCloud. The operator is mainly looking for a solution for enterprise networks: a company will be able to deploy SpiderCloud LTE radio nodes on its local area network, connected to a SpiderCloud services node, also on the enterprise network.

Sprint said: “A network of 100 radio nodes and one services node can provide over a gigabit of capacity and seamless coverage across a public venue, enterprise or university campus as large as 1.5 million square feet [140,000 square metres].”