By Chris Velazco
Not wanting to be outdone by their larger rivals, Sprint (S) also has a big LTE-related announcement today. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse just confirmed to everyone at Citigroup’s 22nd Global Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications Conference that Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio will be the company’s first LTE markets.
Those cities are just the tip of the iceberg though, as Sprint ultimately wants their LTE network lit up in ten markets before the first half of 2012 rolls around. Sprint also lit up their first LTE tower cluster in Kankakee, Illinois of all places, so I’d expect Chicago to taste those high speeds before long, but the other launch markets remain a mystery.
According to a tweet from Sprint’s official Twitter account, those markets will also receive an upgrade to their 3G network as well but the 140 character format doesn’t exactly lend itself well detailed explanations. It likely has to do with the multi-mode base stations Sprint has been deploying as part of their Network Vision plan, which are meant to help the streamline their network(s) by consolidating cell sites.
The news should come as a welcome surprise to Sprint customers who have been stranded without 4G coverage, as Sprint and off-again-on-again network partner Clear’s WiMax rollout has recently crawled to a standstill. By the time that their first LTE markets go live, it will have been almost exactly two years since Sprint’s Evo 4G was released. Customers itching for 4G where there was none before should be able to move into a LTE device with a minimum of contract-related headaches, and they may finally be able to justify paying that $10 premium data fee.