Sprint has today announced its plans for a forthcoming 4G LTE network, which should cover 120 different U.S. markets by the end of next year.
By 2013, the company expects that over 260 markets will benefit from LTE coverage. The “aggressive rollout” should begin on the 1900MHz spectrum, and Sprint hopes to launch on the 800MHz spectrum in the future. Sprint also hopes to build out their LTE network using LightSquared’s 1600 MHz spectrum, although the deal is still awaiting FCC approval.
Sprint will continue selling WiMAX compatible phones throughout the next year, along with 15 new LTE-capable devices, CNET reports. Sprint’s VP of Product Development, Fared Adib has (unfortunately) declined to reveal any shiny new LTE devices today, but he did hint that a variety of handsets, modems, and tablets are currently in the works. The very first Sprint LTE device is expected to appear around mid-summer 2012.
The news has to be a bit of a blow for everyone who jumped on Sprint’s WiMax bandwagon, but CEO Dan Hesse has indicated that support for WiMax devices won’t just disappear.
While Sprint has been depending on Clearwire for its WiMAX network, the LTE roll-out is in Sprint’s court. As we mentioned earlier, Sprint wants to consolidate its network sites, bringing the total from 60,000 to 40,000 using multi-mode network sites, which combine multiple 3G and 4G transmitters into a single unit. Hardware partners Samsung, Ericsson, and Alcatel-Lucent have been developing their multi-mode stations, the deployment of which has already begun.
Sprint is bullish on the positive effects that the LTE rollout will have for their customers. They claim that the 3G-to-4G transition will be as close to seamless as they can manage, and that all Sprint customers will benefit least a little from the network overhaul.
Sprint shares have gone up since the announcement.