Sprint Turns on 4G LTE Network in 15 Cities
July 17, 2012 10:42 AM
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. (
late Monday that it had powered up the first branches of its LTE network. America's third largest carrier joins AT&T, Inc. (
) and Verizon Wireless (a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. (
) and Vodafone Group Plc. (
)) in embracing the most popular next generation communications standard.
The initial coverage regions for Sprint include:
Fort Worth, Tex.
Granbury-Hood County, Tex.
San Antonio, 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
to try to gloss over the glaring technical flaws. LightSquared subsequently
, and Sprint was left navigating the LTE waters on its own.
Sprint offers several LTE-capable handsets, including the EVO 4G LTE from
HTC Corp. (
) 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 (
). 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.
"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook
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