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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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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.


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