Wireless network operator Sprint introduced its 4G Long-Term Evolution high-speed data network to customers in four new markets-Baltimore; Gainesville, Ga.; Manhattan/Junction City, Kansas; and Sedalia, Mo.-as the company struggles to keep pace with rivals like AT&T and Verizon.
Sprint was the first national wireless carrier to introduce 4G services in 2008 and currently offers 4G LTE service in Atlanta as well as Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Waco, Texas. Sherman-Dennison, Texas, is expected to see 4G LTE service in the weeks ahead.
In Baltimore, customers will begin to see 4G 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. In addition, the company is focusing on improving the 3G network experience for its customers, and Sprint officials noted smartphone users in Boston and Washington, D.C., should also notice improved 3G cell coverage, reduced roaming and faster data speeds.
"Our customers are enjoying new applications and devices that increase the demand for mobile data," Bob Azzi, senior vice president of Sprint's network division, said in a prepared statement. "The network build-out that today is playing out in four new cities will provide nothing less than a state-of-the art network platform for the next generation of customers. Customers across the country will begin to experience better 3G service on their devices and will be able to take advantage of 4G LTE on cutting-edge devices as we continue to launch more cities."
According to a CTIA survey of wireless customers, wireless data traffic increased 123 percent from 2010 to 2011, which has increased demand for faster data speeds and better coverage-not to mention flexible and scalable data plans for consumers. Sprint's Everything Data plan with Any Mobile, Anytime includes unlimited data, texting and calling to and from any mobile phone in America while on the Sprint network, starting at $79.99 per month for smartphones, not including taxes and surcharges.
The company said it plans to introduce more markets to the network in 2012. By the end of 2013, Sprint said it expects to have largely completed the build-out of its all-new 4G LTE and 3G nationwide network as part of the company's Network Vision strategy. Sprint's competitive differentiator is the unlimited plans it offers with its smartphones. AT&T and Verizon long ago abandoned their offers of unlimited data-unable to accommodate the demand brought on by devices such as the Apple iPhone, which both carriers had access to before Sprint did. However, analysts expect Sprint's days of unlimited plans will also eventually come to an end.