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Sprint expands LTE launch to 15 cities

Mon, 07/16/2012 - 3:10pm
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

Sprint has turned its five-market LTE launch on Sunday into a 15-market debut as it works to catch up with its larger competitors.

The LTE network was live for just one day in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Kansas City before Sprint decided to light it up in 10 more markets today.

“This new network is performing extremely well, and customers should find it consistent, reliable and really fast," said Bob Azzi, senior vice president of Sprint's network.

The new cities covered by the network surround the first markets to go live and include Athens, Calhoun, Carrollton, Newnan and Rome, Ga.; Fort Worth, Granbury-Hood County, Huntsville and Waco, Texas; and St. Joseph, Mo.

The decision to launch in Waco, Texas, was attributed to an "accelerated build schedule" for Sprint's network modernization project.

Sprint has been offering mobile broadband service over Clearwire's WiMAX network since 2008, but its 15-market LTE footprint is just a fraction of competitors AT&T and Verizon Wireless. AT&T's LTE service is available in nearly 50 markets, and Verizon's spans a formidable 304 markets.

The LTE network is part of Sprint's Network Vision project, a wide-ranging modernization of its network that includes re-farming spectrum, decommissioning its iDEN service and rolling out a replacement CDMA-based push-to-talk service.

Sprint said it will launch its LTE service in a number of yet-unnamed markets over the remainder of this year, with construction largely completed by the end of 2013. When finished, the network is expected to cover 250 million people.

The company said in February that Baltimore would be one of its first LTE markets, but the city was later dropped from the list of premier markets without explanation.

Customers can get Sprint LTE service on five devices: the HTC Evo, LG Viper, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Galaxy S III and a tri-mode hotspot from Sierra Wireless.

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