Sprint: No LTE-Friendly Hardware Until Second Half Of 2012

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Today Sprint CFO Joseph Euteneuer said that the company plans on launching 15 LTE-capable devices next year, though they may be coming a little later than expected — the latter half of 2012, to be exact. The company had originally hoped for mid-summer launches with its first LTE-capable hardware, though either date is much later than the competition. Verizon is clearly up and running in the 4G LTE department, and AT&T is getting there.

Then, there’s Sprint.

The number three carrier is currently banking on its 4G WiMax network (courtesy of Clearwire). And by a slippery twist of events — including Clearwire’s once-impending interest payment and Sprint’s flat-rate bailout of said interest payment (among other things) — Sprint will probably get to hold on to its unlimited data plans for a little while longer. In fact, CNET reports that Euteneuer suggested Sprint would be doing more with unlimited data down the line, though unfortunately that won’t extend to LTE.

While Sprint has preemptively pledged $350 million to help provide support for Clearwire’s LTE rollout, the terms of last week’s agreement state that Sprint will be making usage-based payments for Clearwire’s LTE services. In other words, so will we.

According to Sprint’s Network Vision strategy, Sprint plans to cover 120 million people by the end of next year, and 250 million people by the end of 2013. Headway has already been made, too, deploying the first multi-mode base (that runs both 3G CDMA and 4G LTE).

Holding on to unlimited data, even if its WiMax data, will be important for Sprint moving forward. But the carrier’s push into LTE territory is what really counts, so hopefully we’ll see some top-notch devices supported by a solid LTE network in time for Christmas. Next year, of course.