Sprint Nextel, the United States’ third largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers, has confirmed that its long-awaited Long Term Evolution (LTE) network will go live in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio on 15 July. Additional market launches are expected to be announced later this year, and by the end of 2013 Sprint aims to have largely completed its nationwide LTE rollout, covering around 250 million people. As part of its ongoing ‘Network Vision’ upgrade programme, Sprint initially plans to deploy LTE using its 1900MHz PCS spectrum, before refarming the 800MHz spectrum currently reserved for its iDEN services.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in April 2012 Sprint’s LTE network was soft-launched in Kankakee, a small town situated 60 miles south of Chicago. Compared to the large metropolitan markets that will witness commercial LTE launches next month, Kankakee was widely regarded as an odd choice for an LTE test-bed; according to 2010 data from the Census Bureau, the town’s population was just 27,537, and the median annual income was USD31,379, with 31% of residents classified as living below the poverty line.
To date Sprint has introduced five LTE-capable devices, including the HTC Evo 4G LTE, LG Viper, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Galaxy S III and a Sierra Wireless Tri-Fi Hotspot router, which supports Sprint’s LTE and CDMA200 1xEV-DO networks and Clearwire’s mobile WiMAX system; all devices are priced at under USD200, and are compatible with Sprint’s ‘Everything Data’ plan which offers unlimited data, SMS and mobile calls from USD79.99 per month.