Sprint's Going LTE In 2012, Still Tending To WiMAX Customers

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 speeds 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 $11 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!
Tags:  LTE, Sprint, WiMAX, WWAN, carrier