Sprint began offering 4G services in 2008, making it the first national U.S. carrier to do so, the company said as a reminder in a July 16 press release, before adding that it has finally rolled out 4G services based on Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology.
Subscribers in 15 cities surrounding the Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio markets can now enjoy the technology. The additional cities include Waco and Fort Worth, Texas, and Rome and Athens, Georgia.
During the second half of the year, Sprint plans to add still more citiesthough it has yet to share what these will be. By the end of 2013, officials expect Sprints LTE network to cover its nationwide network.
"Sprint and our vendors have been deploying Network Vision sites all across the country for the last several months and we are thrilled to deliver our new network to our customers today in and around [these major cities]," Bob Azzi, Sprint senior vice president of network, said a statement. "This new network is performing extremely well and customers should find it consistent, reliable and really fast."
Particularly pleased should be owners of devices such as the Sprint HTC Evo 4G LTE, which despite its name had no LTE network to run onuntil now. And really, it's easy to argue that LTE is all that this large-but-light sibling to AT&T's HTC One X has been missing.
Soon enough, Sprint's new network will also be a boon to iPhone users. By all accounts, forecasts and rumors, the newest iPhone will be LTE-enableda fact that no doubt contributed to what Sprint is calling its "accelerated build schedule."
Sprint's 2008 4G network, and its 4G services to date, was based on WiMax technology. Sprint acknowledged early on that it expected LTE to be the more popular technology of the two but that it needed the early in and the publicity of being the first to 4G.
Verizon Wireless didn't begin offering 4G until December 2010. AT&T followed in early 2011.
Today, Sprint's differentiator is the unlimited plans it offers with its smartphones. AT&T and Verizon long ago abandoned their offers of unlimited dataunable to accommodate the demand brought on by devices such as the Apple iPhone, which both had access to before Sprint. Analysts expect that Sprint's days of unlimited plans will also eventually come to an end.
In June, Verizon introduced Share Everything plans, a new take on data plans that enables multiple devices to plug into a single allotment of data. AT&T has said it will move in a similar direction soon.
"In today's competitive wireless market, the value of unlimited has never been more apparent," Sprint said its statement today, noting that its Everything Data plan includes unlimited data, texting and calling starting at $79.99 per month.
It added that it now has five LTE-capable devices for less than $200 with a new contractmost of which can now live up to their names. In addition to the HTC Evo 4G LTE, Sprint offers the LG Viper 4G LTE, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Sierra Wireless 4G LTE Tri-Fi Hotspot.