Sprint CEO Dan Hesse tells an audience during the CTIA Wireless conference in Las Vegas that his company invested in WiMax for its 4G technology out of a need to get into the 4G market quickly. However, Hesse also says he thought LTE would likely become the bigger 4G standard. Sprint introduced a 4G-capable smartphone, the HTC Evo 4G, at the conference.
LAS VEGAS-Sprint Nextel CEO
Dan Hesse suggested during a talk at the CTIA Wireless conference that his
company's decision to invest in WiMax for its 4G technology, as opposed to LTE,
was out of a need to quickly create a footprint in the U.S.-based 4G market.
However, Hesse also said WiMax would "likely"
be dwarfed as a 4G standard by LTE.
"WiMax was a tried, true, tested 4G technology," Hesse told the
audience assembled in a hangar-like space for the conference's March 24 keynote
addresses. "LTE will most likely be the larger of the two 4G standards,
but for us, we couldn't wait. Because of our spectrum position, we have the
option to add other technologies later, but this allows us to get into this
Hesse added: "Time to market was very important.
That is our competitive position."
Sprint 4G capability is currently available in 27 markets, and the company
plans to expand it to Houston, Boston,
Washington, New York
and San Francisco by the end of
2010. Despite a $1 billion investment in Clearwire's WiMax 4G technology,
however, Sprint also faces considerable financial and customer-related
pressures. In the fourth quarter of 2009, the carrier reported losses of $980
million and about 148,000 subscribers, better than the 545,000 who left the
network during the third quarter but nonetheless a sign of a worrying trend.
Hesse introduced a 4G-capable
smartphone, the HTC Evo 4G,
during a high-profile press conference March 23.
The device runs on the Google Android 2.1 operating system and is capable of
displaying high-definition video and other multimedia on its 4.3-inch
capacitive touch screen; it also incorporates two cameras, an 8-megapixel
module with auto-focus and an HD-capable camcorder, and a front-facing
HTC, Google and Sprint have apparently
been working since May 2008 to deliver what HTC
CEO Peter Chou described as "the
world's first fully integrated 4G consumer handset."
Like other devices making their debut at CTIA, such as the Samsung Galaxy S,
the HTC Evo 4G places heavy emphasis on
social networking, with a number of applications designed to aggregate content
from popular sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
The HTC Evo 4G could "give Sprint an
edge in attracting and retaining high-value smartphone customers, although
every operator is targeting that segment, including AT&T with the
iPhone," Mike Roberts, an analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media, wrote
in a March 24 research note. "Sprint is still losing postpaid subscribers
at twice the rate of Verizon and AT&T, and devices like the HTC
Evo 4G will be key to retaining and attracting customers."
However, Roberts added, the eventual success or failure of the HTC
Evo 4G will depend on more than just its hardware capabilities or the speed of
its network: "Sprint's new 4G Mobile WiMax device will only really come
into its own when it has a variety of applications that take advantage of the
faster speeds of 4G, and that will take time."