Sprint is the latest carrier to add to the 4G conversation, announcing Nov. 29 that it has rolled out 4G service in six new cities-Los Angeles; Miami; Washington D.C.; and Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio-bringing its total number of covered markets to 68.
With 4G-enabled devices, or WiFi-enabled devices in a 4G device hot spot, Sprint customers can enjoy speeds that are “up to 10 times faster than 3G,” the carrier said in a statement.
“We have witnessed a great demand from our customers for 4G speeds, power and capabilities in these cities already and today they officially have it,” Matt Carter, president of Sprint 4G, said in the statement. “We are proud to deliver on our commitment to serve our customers and deliver 4G to more major metropolitan areas in 2010.”
On Nov. 1, New York City; Hartford and New Haven, Conn.; Tampa, Fla.; and New Brunswick and Trenton, N.J., also joined the 4G list. Next up, going live Dec. 28, will be the San Francisco area.
Sprint offers 4G through Clearwire’s WiMax technology, and offers complementary 4G devices such as the Sierra Wireless 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot, the Dell Inspiron Mini 10 netbook and Inspiron 11z notebook, and the Samsung Epic 4G and HTC Evo 4G smartphones-both of which helped it, during its fiscal third quarter, achieve its lowest-ever churn rate.
While Sprint was the first major carrier to offer 4G-which it launched in Baltimore in September 2008-T-Mobile now counts itself as second. Though its network is based on HSPA+, a technology that’s been referred to as 3.5G in an ad campaign launched Nov. 2, T-Mobile introduced the myTouch 4G smartphone and began calling itself “America’s largest 4G network”-a move that analysts say is likely to be fine with consumers, so long as the network is super fast. Which, by general concensus, it seems to be.
Verizon Wireless also intends to be counted among the 4G providers this year. Executives have been promising to have 38 metropolitan areas and 60 commercial airports covered by year’s end, and on Nov. 22 the carrier began airing an advertisement confirming that in December it will launch what it’s decided to call “the most advanced 4G network in the world.”
Unlike Sprint, Verizon’s network will be based on LTE (Long-Term Evolution) technology. AT&T also plans to use LTE for its planned 2011 rollout, and eventually T-Mobile will upgrade to the technology.
Even Sprint is considering rolling out LTE-which analysts expect to eventually be the prevailing technology-alongside its WiMax network, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse told the Financial Times in July. “The beauty of having a lot of spectrum,” Hesse told FT, “is we have a lot of flexibility.”
For now, however, Hesse and company are likely simply happy to be enabling fast mobile downloads in Cincinnati, wireless video chatting in Miami and “turbo-charged” Web browsing in Los Angeles.