Now we know why Angel Ruiz, head of Ericsson North America, was a no-show at a conference in Silicon Valley where he was scheduled to speak last week.
It seems that Ruiz had an important customer meeting that couldn’t be missed. This week, Sprint announced that Ericsson, along with Alcatel-Lucent and Samsung, won a contract to bring Sprint’s Network Vision to life by implementing multimode technology. Each of the vendors will install new network equipment and software to bring together multiple spectrum bands on a single multimode base station. The base stations will span 800 MHz, 1.9 GHz and 2.5 GHz, as well as other spectrum bands as needed.
For Ericsson, the five-year contract includes building network infrastructure for roughly one-third of the nation’s geography for Sprint markets largely in the Central and Southeast regions where it already has gear installed. Ericsson was awarded Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Kansas City and Dallas.
Alcatel-Lucent will build out New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C./Baltimore and Los Angeles, and Samsung gets Chicago, Denver, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Seattle. (As for Verizon Wireless’ LTE network, the carrier isn’t providing geographic or market-by-market breakdowns for its two main infrastructure vendors, Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson.)
Arun Bhikshesvaran, vice president, strategy and CTO at Ericsson North America, says the base station technology is designed to be capable of handling multiple bands, so that’s not a unique challenge. Integrating multiple bands tends to be a bigger challenge for the handsets.
What is unique is the extent of Ericsson’s relationship with Sprint. On the technology supply side, it’s supplying – in the markets it won – a complete portfolio, from the core voice and data network to backhaul. Ericsson also will be tasked with impartially managing the integration of all the equipment vendors into the network. In addition, Ericsson will be in charge of the ongoing operation of the network once it’s commercial. Ericsson entered into a seven-year network services agreement with Sprint in 2009, so it’s already managing Sprint’s wireless, wireline and iDEN networks.
According to Bhikshesvaran, Ericsson likely will deploy hundreds of engineers for the project but depending on peak times, that number might end up being more like a couple thousand.
As for Ruiz, he was listed on the agenda to present this past Thursday as part of Ericsson’s Silicon Valley Global Media Tour, a two-day event that included more than a dozen journalists from places as diverse as France, Poland, Romania and Nigeria. On Wednesday, the journalists were given a tour of Sprint’s M2M Collaboration Center in Burlingame, Calif. Sprint just opened the center in October, with Ericsson being one of its many partners. So long as developers meet some basic criteria, they can use the center to test their own ideas and technologies.