Sprint's New HPUE Tech Promises to Extend Reach of Its 2.5 GHz Service

After almost two years in development, Sprint unveils High Performance User Equipment technology it says will expand the coverage of the company's 2.5 GHz spectrum wireless service.

Sprint HPUE

The number three mobile carrier unwrapped High Performance User Equipment (HPUE) technology on Dec. 13 that is says will extend the coverage of its 2.5 GHz spectrum up to 30 percent. Specifically, HPUE closes the coverage gap between the carrier’s mid- and high-band spectrum.

“It’s no secret that high-band spectrum doesn’t travel as far as mid or low-band, particularly indoors,” Sprint CTO Dr. John Saw, said in a blog post. “It’s also no secret that high-band spectrum is the spectrum of the 5G future with its ability to deliver tremendous amounts of data at very fast speeds. With HPUE, our customers gain the best of both worlds, allowing our 2.5 GHz spectrum to maintain all of the speed and capacity advantages of high-band, while gaining the coverage advantages of mid-band spectrum on HPUE capable devices.”

Sprint says HPUE’s impact will be global, noting it’s designed to improve the performance of TDD-LTE Band 41 networks around the world. Sprint led the development of HPUE in conjunction with the Global TDD LTE Intitiative (GTI) and a range of mobile suppliers including China Mobile, SoftBank, Qualcomm, Samsung, ZTE, Broadcom, MediaTek, Skyworks Solutions, Alcatel, Motorola, LG and Qorvo Software. Sprint is owned by Softbank.

With the announcement, Sprint said its network is ready for the initial roll-out of HPUE, including in its 250 LTE Plus markets. Samsung, one of Sprint’s most important ecosystem partners, is expected to support HPUE in devices slated for commercial launch in 2017.

“HPUE Power Class 2 is a highly important development for the growing ecosystem of Band 41 devices and TDD-LTE networks around the world,” said Jim Tran, senior vice president, product management at Qualcomm. “We are supporting OEMs that are anticipating to launch devices in the first half of 2017. These new devices will give consumers a superior wireless experience in more places.”

It’s unclear when or if Apple, which was not mentioned in the announcement, will support the technology in new devices.

Analyst Tim Bajarin says Sprint’s demonstration and eventual rollout of HPUE is important because it allows them to get more out of their current 2.5 GHz band and makes them more competitive with ATT and Verizon.

“This is good news for Sprint customers as it expands their coverage areas although it will be in testing for a while longer,” Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, told eWEEK. “But as Sprint has stated, it could be rolled out in many regions as soon as the middle of next year.”

Sprint also reiterated in its HPUE announcement that it plans to continue leveraging a variety of advanced technologies including multiple carrier aggregation, 256 QAM, 4x4 MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) and Massive MIMO to further enhance the capacity and coverage of its 2.5 GHz TDD-LTE spectrum.

The news comes a week after another carrier, AT&T, made news touting the first public demonstration of its 5G high-speed network in collaboration with Ericsson and Intel. AT&T says 5G, still years away from wide deployment, can stream 4K HD video, real-time camera feeds and offers speeds of almost 14 gigabytes per second.

Sprint parent company’s CEO Masayoshi Son made news recently in an appearance with President-Elect Donald Trump. Son announced plans to invest as much as $50 billion in the U.S. with an aim to create as many as 50,000 jobs.

David Needle

David Needle

Based in Silicon Valley, veteran technology reporter David Needle covers mobile, bi g data, and social media among other topics. He was formerly News Editor at Infoworld, Editor of Computer Currents...