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Coverage is limited to Texas, Georgia, Kansas, and Missourri

It may not be the nation's largest LTE network, but it's a start.  Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) announced late Monday that it had powered up the first branches of its LTE network.  America's third largest carrier joins AT&T, Inc. (T) and Verizon Wireless (a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc. (LON:VOD)) in embracing the most popular next generation communications standard.

The initial coverage regions for Sprint include:
  • Atlanta, Ga.
  • Athens, Ga.
  • Calhoun, Ga.
  • Carrollton, Ga.
  • Newnan, Ga.
  • Rome, Ga.
  • Dallas, Tex.
  • Fort Worth, Tex.
  • Granbury-Hood County, Tex.
  • Houston, Tex.
  • Huntsville, Tex.
  • San Antonio, Tex.
  • Waco, Tex.
  • Kansas City, Mo.-Kan.
  • St. Joseph, Mo.
Sprint started the 4G race ahead of Verizon and AT&T, launching a WiMAX network in Sept. 2008.  At the time, Sprint could brag that it was the nation's fastest carrier in some regions, and it looked to profit-take off that lead, charging its 4G customers a $10-per-month "high-speed data" fee.

But in Dec. 2010 Verizon unleashed its response.  Unlike Sprint's network, Verizon's used LTE, a rival standard that enjoyed some technical advantages over WiMAX.  Quickly it bumped coverage to over 200 million Americans.  It was followed in Sept. 2011 by AT&T, whose network covered less people, but was shown to be faster in independent testing.

Catching wind of the upcoming AT&T LTE rollout, Sprint in July 2011 committed to an LTE rollout.  Sprint's original plan was to supplement ground-based coverage with a satellite LTE offering, but those plans took a hit when partner LightSquared was accused of crippling GPS interference and "bribing" politicians to try to gloss over the glaring technical flaws.  LightSquared subsequently went belly-up, and Sprint was left navigating the LTE waters on its own.
Sprint EVO 4G LTe
Sprint offers several LTE-capable handsets, including the EVO 4G LTE from
HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) and the Galaxy S III.

Today Sprint desparately needs some sort of a boost.  It was found to be the slowest carrier in recent speed tests.  And it's still charging the same old $10 WiMAX fees for many Android smartphone users.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's bleeding customers by the bucket-full.

Verizon's LTE coverage is approaching 260 million Americans and 300+ cities.  AT&T's effort is at about 80 million Americans and 50 cities.  Sprint hopes to cover 250 million Americans with LTE by the end of 2013.

In other words, Sprint is about a year behind Verizon.  However, it's also the only carrier with no data caps or data overage fees, so if it can live up to its ambitious roll-out, it could once again provide a compelling alternative to America's top two carriers -- Verizon and AT&T -- as it did back in the heyday of its WiMAX era.

Sprint's highest profile LTE compatible handset is the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich-powered Galaxy S III, which launched on June 21, courtesy of Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KSC:005930).  That was followed by the white-edition HTC EVO 4G LTE, which went on sale on Sunday, priced at $199.99 USD, after an initial launch on June 2.

Sources: Sprint [1], [2]

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By H8ff0000 on 7/17/2012 11:05:02 AM , Rating: 2
I might be overlooking something, but isn't the following statement made towards the end of the article wrong?:

"Sprint's first LTE compatible handset is the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich-powered HTC EVO 4G LTE. It went on sale on Sunday, priced at $199.99 USD."

The Samsung Galaxy S III was released prior to the HTC EVO 4G LTE.

RE: Error?
By Newspapercrane on 7/17/2012 11:24:12 AM , Rating: 2
I've had my Sprint Samsung Galaxy S III LTE since June 21st...

RE: Error?
By Newspapercrane on 7/17/2012 11:26:43 AM , Rating: 2
Also, I'm pretty sure the Galaxy Nexus was out even before the SGS III... and they just dropped the price to $99.

RE: Error?
By JasonMick on 7/17/2012 11:25:21 AM , Rating: 3
Yup, that was a mistake, fixed, thanks!

RE: Error?
By mcnabney on 7/17/2012 11:55:16 AM , Rating: 3
You might also want to reconsider using an LTE speed comparison between Verizon and AT&T that was done immediately after AT&T turned LTE on. An LTE network that has been activating millions of LTE devices over the previous year might have a bit more traffic on it than one that was just turned on. Surely a more recent comparison test has been done.

RE: Error?
By Camikazi on 7/17/2012 11:32:40 AM , Rating: 2
LG Viper 4G is LTE enabled and came out in April alongside the Galaxy Nexus which is also an LTE phone.

RE: Error?
By nkf on 7/17/2012 11:37:16 AM , Rating: 2
The EVO 4G was supposed to be released on May 18, but actually came out around June 2 (according to the web, and that is consistent with when I remember getting mine). Definitely before the Galaxy S III, though

RE: Error?
By Camikazi on 7/17/2012 11:40:24 AM , Rating: 2
Nexus and Viper were still out in April and both LTE though.

RE: Error?
By bigboxes on 7/17/2012 10:55:48 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, the EVO 4G LTE was released first, even with the delay (thanks Apple).

RE: Error?
By really on 7/18/2012 7:32:49 PM , Rating: 2
The HTC Evo 4G LTE was release a month prior to the Samsung Galaxy S III. I know I almost bought the EVO as an upgrade but then the S III announcement was made and I pre-ordered it and have it in my possession.

yup that $10 4G tax..
By darckhart on 7/17/2012 12:01:07 PM , Rating: 2
yup that $10/mo 4G tax still ticks me off. When the original EVO launched, wimax was unavailable in SEVERAL major cities. They didn't get off their butt to fix that until MUCH later. Did they offer cashback to those customers that paid for 4G but didn't get it? NO. Here again we see the same crap with LTE. 15 cities, none in bay area, LA, or NY.

You make it difficult for me to stick with you sprint...

RE: yup that $10 4G tax..
By johnbuk on 7/17/2012 1:23:29 PM , Rating: 3
At least it sounds like you're getting WIMAX for your $10/4G fee. I'm paying it and live in an area that never got or will get WIMAX service and is not likely to be a priority for their LTE service.
But other than that $10 fee, I've been pretty happy with Sprint.

RE: yup that $10 4G tax..
By Spookster on 7/17/2012 2:56:02 PM , Rating: 2
Ditto. And the Sprint employee who sold me the service and the HTC EVO 4G wimax phones said our city would have 4G wimax in the next year so I went ahead and switched to Sprint from Verizon. Of course a few months after we get service Sprint announces it will no longer continue to roll out their 4G wimax so now I am stuck paying the $10/month and will never get to use the 4G service. And their 3G service here is slower than dialup.

RE: yup that $10 4G tax..
By ShaolinSoccer on 7/17/2012 5:44:56 PM , Rating: 2
There really needs to be a lawsuit about that $10 fee. We paid 2 years and never got 4G. They even changed the name of the fee from "For 4G" to "For using an advanced phone"...

RE: yup that $10 4G tax..
By Akrovah on 7/17/2012 7:08:38 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah they did. I didn't even get a 4G phone and Sprint is charging me the $10 "Smartphone" fee. Unlimited sounded like a good idea when I finally got my first Smartphone. Wish I hasn't been suckered in to it considering how terrible my average data connection actually is on any given day. "Unlimited if you can connect to it" would be more accurate.

RE: yup that $10 4G tax..
By Solandri on 7/18/2012 2:15:06 PM , Rating: 2
IIRC, they didn't change the name. The fee was initially only added on to new smartphones which just happened to have 4G service, and Sprint's customers started calling it a 4G fee.

RE: yup that $10 4G tax..
By Adam M on 7/17/2012 5:12:59 PM , Rating: 2
I also love the fact that they have increased the protection plan twice in about a years time while offering ever decreasing protection. I have really been looking forward to the EVO LTE but given Sprints speeds and the fact that I can't use it for console gaming I am better off flashing my OG EVO to Cricket and getting home internet. Sprint couldn't pay me to sign another contract with them.

RE: yup that $10 4G tax..
By Adam M on 7/18/2012 8:29:42 PM , Rating: 2
I got home last night and checked speeds on 3g and 4g. Unsurprisingly my 3g speeds were consistently below 1m. I was surprised by my 4g speeds (Wimax)clocking in at over 10m per second. Now if I could only do something useful with it like use my PS3. For me at least, faster speeds won't save Sprint.

Levelling the Playing Field?
By WalksTheWalk on 7/17/2012 11:44:19 AM , Rating: 2
This is a question since I'm not up on the radio tech underlying the LTE tech.

Does this help level the playing field so, in theory, I can get an unlocked phone with LTE capability and use it on any US carrier with LTE, or is this just a pipe dream?

RE: Levelling the Playing Field?
By mcnabney on 7/17/2012 11:49:52 AM , Rating: 2
That should work for a data-only device - just pop-in a Verizon 4G SIM and go. However a smartphone will also need to be CDMA to do any voice.

Yeah they're unlimited but ..
By MentalVirus on 7/17/2012 2:42:00 PM , Rating: 2
Think of how much time it will take to actually use even 2GB worth of data over 3G. I'm using Wifi on my GS3 90% of the time. Crappy <1MBPS Sprint 3G is really insulting to use on such a magnificent device.

Sprint is like an all-you-can-eat buffet that serves only hot dogs whereas everyone else is serving prime rib for a premium price. It's really just a preference thing.

By BillyBatson on 7/17/2012 8:55:05 PM , Rating: 2
It really doesn't take that long.... If I'm never home to use my wifi I average 6gb a month, if I'm home a lot I average 3-4gb. So anywhere between 1-3 weeks for me to hit 2gb... And indont stream Netflix or anything

Bleeding Customers
By TheDoc9 on 7/17/2012 11:36:46 AM , Rating: 3
Maybe they are, I've never had a problem with them and have good service all over town.

One thing I've noticed is that since they want to keep you, you as the customer have a lot of power. I've never been charged late fees and they are always helpful in getting me on their cheapest plan when I trade in my phones. I hope they don't go under with this latest deal with Apple.

By abzillah on 7/17/2012 7:12:16 PM , Rating: 1
None of the cities are in California, the most populous state. What is going on in the mind of the executives?

RE: Bullsh*t
By Regected on 7/21/2012 3:11:59 PM , Rating: 2
Because the economy there sucks.

By wiz220 on 7/17/2012 1:26:12 PM , Rating: 2
I love my Evo LTE, but seriously, Waco, TX gets LTE before Denver (or LA or NY for that matter!)?? Do the Branch Davidians even have cell phones?? :)

This is my favorite sentence!
By bobdelt on 7/17/12, Rating: -1
"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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