US mobile giant Sprint Nextel has indicated that it intends to offer Long Term Evolution (LTE) services using the 800MHz spectrum currently utilised by its iDEN network, by 2014. According to Fierce Wireless citing a press briefing held by senior company executives at Sprint’s corporate headquarters in Kansas, the company has already received 3GPP certification for ‘Band Class 26’ to re-use its 800MHz spectrum for LTE. Although the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will ultimately have to approve the use of that particular frequency band for LTE, senior vice president of networks, Bob Azzi, expects the issue to proceed smoothly. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in February 2012 Sprint launched a website (http://nextelnetwork.sprint.com) detailing when and where it will begin decommissioning obsolete iDEN cell towers across the country. The work was expected to form part of the firm’s multi-billion-dollar ‘Network Vision’ upgrade scheme.
However, Sprint customers will not have to wait until 2014 to experience LTE connectivity; the cellco’s 4G network is set to launch in Dallas, Atlanta, Houston and San Antonio and a number of other key markets during the first half of 2012. Last week Sprint confirmed that its LTE network was up and running in Kankakee, a small town situated 60 miles south of Chicago. Although the network is also believed to be live in several other towns, the operator has declined to name them thus far. The in-deployment network utilises frequencies in the 1900MHz spectrum band.