Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse has told Fierce Wireless that the carrier has sold one million Long Term Evolution (LTE)-suitable devices to date, seemingly unencumbered by the fact that its 4G network rollout covers only a fraction of the territory of rivals Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility. Sprint currently offers LTE technology in 19 metropolitan areas across Kansas, Georgia, Texas and Missouri. Speaking at the Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia Conference, Hesse said Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S III and HTC’s Evo 4G represent the bulk of Sprint’s LTE phone sales to date. He claims that customers are attracted to Sprint’s unlimited smartphone data plans and the fact that Sprint will expand its LTE network significantly over the next year-and-a-half.
Sprint, the United States’ third largest mobile operator by subscribers, inaugurated its commercial LTE network on 15 July 2012 as per its previously announced schedule, with a total of 15 cities initially receiving coverage. Earlier this week it confirmed that its 4G rollout is now under way in more than 100 additional cities across the US and in its unincorporated territories Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (US). By the end of 2013 Sprint expects to have completed its nationwide LTE buildout.
In related news, when quizzed about its long-rumoured consolidation plans, Hesse reiterated that he would prefer it if Sprint focused on executing its ongoing ‘Network Vision’ plan until at least mid-2013, rather than worrying about mergers and acquisitions. However, he is expectant that some kind of deal between wireless carriers will happen at some point, noting: ‘I do think there will be consolidation. I would hope and expect that over the long term Sprint will take a very active role in that’.