Sprint Expands LTE Coverage

Sprint today introduced its LTE service to customers in Baltimore, Md., Gainesville, Ga., Manhattan/Junction City, Kan., and Sedalia, Mo. Additionally, Sprint customers in Baltimore, Boston and Washington, D.C., are beginning to enjoy the benefits of Sprint’s all-new 3G service – which is using the Nextel 850 MHz band for better in-building coverage and fewer dropped/blocked calls.

In Baltimore, customers will begin to see the PCS band LTE signals in the Inner Harbor, Fells Point, Federal Hill and Pikesville areas – with more sites being turned on in the days and weeks ahead.

With the addition of 4G LTE and the upgrades to 3G service, the Sprint network in these areas can handle more voice and data traffic.

Sprint 4G LTE made its debut in 15 cities on July 15, and the company plans to introduce more markets to the network in 2012. By the end of 2013, Sprint expects to have largely completed the build-out of its all-new 4G LTE and 3G nationwide network.

Sprint first launched their Xohm-labeled WiMAX service in September, 2008 in Baltimore. Their WiMax network uses the 2.6 GHz band which lacks the range and penetration of the lower 1.9 GHz PCS band that the current FD-LTE system uses.

Next year Clearwire is also expected to offer LTE. Clearwire will use the 2.6 GHz band and the Time Division flavor of LTE.

Clearwire intends to launch 5,000 TDD-LTE cell sites by June 2013, but much of its future right now is tied to Sprint, where it gets more than 80% of its subscribers.

If Sprint can successfully offload their PCS-based FD-LTE network onto Clear’s TD-LTE network (at 2.6 GHz), then Clear should be okay. But refarming their 850 MHz Nextel spectrum would give Sprint better LTE coverage.

Clearwire, therefore, might benefit from another large wholesale partner like DirecTV, in addition to their flotilla of mobile virtual operators. A lot may depend on the iPhone 5’s frequency flexibility. If it can roam seamlessly to TD-LTE on the 2.6 GHz band, then Clearwire and its virtual operators may benefit significantly.

Three of the four major carriers offer LTE, but it will cost you $80-$90/month for basic voice and data service.

LTE service is mostly available in urban centers, and not in rural regions.

T-Mobile and Clear promise LTE service beginning in the middle of 2013.

Long Term Evolution is the future because data payloads can be delivered cheaper (and faster). LTE also allows spectrum aggregation, among other things.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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