In a move than has been expected for months, Sprint has announced that it’s going to build an LTE network to replace the WiMAX one it currently uses to offer 4G to customers. Both Verizon and AT&T also use this standard.
Sprint was the first carrier to offer 4G service, but sometimes there are disadvantages to being first. Tests have shown that Verizon’s LTE network is up to 3 times faster than Sprint’s WiMAX service. In addition, the company was probably being pressured to switch to LTE by device makers, who would prefer to not have to make WiMAX-enabled phones just for this one carrier.
Coming in 2012
The carrier plans to launch 4G LTE on its 1900MHz spectrum by the middle of next year, and complete the switch by the end of 2013. Its first smartphones with LTE will be out by mid-2012, and Sprint intends to introduce 15 such devices before the end of the year, including handsets, tablets and data cards.
The carrier will continue to offer WiMAX service for quite some time. It didn’t reveal how long, but did say that smartphones with WiMAX will continue to be sold throughout 2012.