Will Sprint Switch To LTE? It's Possible

At the Long Term Evolution (LTE) event in Amsterdam, Sprint revealed that it is evaluating equipment suppliers for a major technology evolution of its CDMA network in the U.S. The company also indicated it is open to LTE.

Sprint's VP of device and technology development Mathew Oommen told Light Reading Mobile the wireless carrier is evaluating future technological choices for its core CDMA network. This could include LTE. As Oommen put it, "We want to future proof our network. We want to leverage all the assets we have in such a way that offers us the lowest cost per bit." He also added that it's important to "not be prescriptive to a particular technology."

In considering its options, Sprint has remained open to the LTE standard, the same 4G standard that Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile have committed to deploying. "There's nothing that prevents us from... moving to LTE," said Kevin Packingham, senior VP of product and technology development at Sprint, speaking at the LTE event. "We're doing a technology evaluation and making a decision on our core [CDMA] network and how we want to evolve that going forward."

Thus far, Sprint has been behind the WiMAX standard and has already rolled out WiMAX service with Clearwire. To date, Sprint and Clearwire's 4G WiMAX network is the only available 4G network in the U.S. Clearwire has said it will standardize on the best technology and can switch to LTE if need be.

As Sprint looks to evolve its CDMA network, the wireless carrier has submitted a request for proposal (RFP) from many of the world's wireless networking technology companies. Sprint has not specified which technology it will use in evolving its network. Packingham also noted that the company doesn't view WiMAX and LTE as being mutually exclusive.