Well, isn't this quite the bombshell? Sprint
was steadfast in their
support for WiMAX
, despite the fact that T-Mobile's 42Mbps HSPA+ network
(and especially Verizon Wireless' LTE network) was faster. WiMAX was
widely seen as the first "4G" implementation in America, but being first
isn't always the best tactic, particularly when your rollout footprint
is tiny and the speed increases hardly justify the $10/month surcharge.
WiMAX was seemingly losing the 4G battle from the start, with LTE and
its variants picking up way more steam. So, what's Sprint to do about
it? Cut their loses and switch sides while there's still time.
The company recently revealed plans to
accelerate deployment of Network Vision and plans to roll out 4G LTE
on their licensed spectrum. Network Vision,
originally announced in
December 2010, is Sprint’s plan to consolidate multiple network
technologies into one seamless network with the goal of increasing
efficiency and enhancing network coverage, call quality and data
for customers across the United States. It's also vital in keeping
existing WiMAX customers served, while reaching out to the eventual
influx of LTE customers.
Sprint plans to launch 4G LTE on its 1900MHz spectrum by
midyear 2012 and complete the network build-out by the end of 2013. By
the conclusion of 2013, Sprint’s 4G coverage footprint is expected to
cover more than 250 million people.
The carrier expects to
launch CDMA-LTE devices by mid-2012, with approximately 15 devices
coming throughout the year – including handsets, tablets and data
cards. Additionally, CDMA-WiMAX 4G devices, like the EVO 4G, Samsung Epic 4G Touch and Nexus S
4G, will continue to be sold throughout 2012.
The process won't come cheap. As
declared last December, Network Vision is expected to cost an
incremental $4 billion to $5 billion and deliver $10 billion to
billion in net economic value to the company between 2011 and
2017. That's a lot of change to lay down, but it's really the only way
the company can expect to stay competitive. Of course, gaining the
iPhone 4 and 4S should help matters, but maintaining an edge is 4G is
vital to competing with VZW. And yes, as a customer, you should be
applauding the enhancing competition. Bring on the LTE!