Sprint’s first tri-band LTE hotspots are here July 19th — first Android phones coming later this year

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Sprint has announced that its first set of devices with tri-band LTE radios — that is, those with the radios necessary to take advantage of the 800MHz spectrum Sprint cleared up by retiring its legacy push-to-talk network — are going to be available July 19th. Those devices are all wireless hotspots and USB modems, with the NETGEAR Zing wireless hotspot and NETGEAR 341U USB modem, as well as Novatel’s MiFi 500 LTE, all coming in just a few days’ time.

So what does the added 800MHz band get you? That band is quite good at penetrating buildings and underground structures, so Sprint will be using it to deliver just as good of an experience inside buildings as it can if you were out in bright daylight. We’re a bit surprised the first devices to take advantage are already here, though it’s worth noting none of these are smartphones.

We reached out to Sprint to see if we could get a better idea of when the first smartphones with this new tri-band radio would launch, but we were only able to gather “by the end of this year.” That’s better than nothing, though, and we’re glad to see it won’t take long to give users access to the more robust LTE experience Sprint is looking to provide.

As for these devices, the NETGEAR ZING and Novatel MiFi 500 LTE will both be available for $50 following a two-year contract agreement, while the NETGEAR 341U will come in at just $20 for that same commitment. Anyone looking to scoop one up for the time being while we await smartphones with these strengthened radios embedded?

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  • JeffHomere

    I live in New Jersey and have been waiting for Sprint to get there LTE network in my area for the improved 3g speeds ( i still have Galaxy s2 -_-) because unlimited data means nothing when the majority of the time its super slow.

    • NYCHitman1

      LTE doesn’t bring improved 3G. They are separate updates within Network Vision. 3G upgrades usually go live within clusters.

      • Jerel Butler

        maybe he means so the 3g will be less cluttered and he will get better speeds? that is what happened with metropcs our 3g now averages 1-2 mbps while our lte is higher, so if i don’t need lte I turn it off and use the 3g plus it penatrates better and gives better battery life

      • earth

        NV sites will give more backhaul capacity to 3G but non-NV sites will not see improvement until upgraded with NV. And as more users move to LTE, it takes load off 3G.

        • NYCHitman1

          I know that’s what it does. I just was breaking it down for homeskillet.

    • earth

      There is some LTE showing up in NJ, but you should wait until tri band phones come out later this year before upgrading your S2 WiMAX phone…

      This is just user reported, there is likely much more than this…
      http://sensorly.com/map/4G/US/USA/Sprint/lte_310sprint

  • chuckles87

    What I don’t get is why sprint did not put these radios in their phones to begin with? They knew for a long time they were going to convert their iden network to lte.

    • earth

      They couldn’t. 800 LTE was just ratified by 3GGP and FCC within last year. It takes a while for chip makers to develop/test and get into production. And that’s before it gets into Sprint’s hands.

  • Azmon Rougier

    i’ve been paying the “4G fee” since the wimax days down here in the VI…can i pleaaaasssssee have 4G service???……pleeaaaase!!!!

    • ryan rochford

      not a 4G fee. every smart phone user pays the premium data fee….even blackberry and 3g android devices, as well as pre iPhone 5 iOS devices… want better service go pay the extra dough for verizon, otherwise sit tight.

      • Azmon Rougier

        it IS a 4g fee no matter what they call it…they added the fee at the same time they started offering 4G speeds to defray their costs…that is why i put “4G fee” in quotations…

        verizon does not offer service here in the VI…stick to what u know ok there buddy…

        • Duong Duc Ngo

          It was a 4g but not anymore because all smart has it. So stick what you know which is not much. Okay buddy

          • Azmon Rougier

            english comprehension would do you good..

            nowhere in my comments do you see anything about devices…i’m talking about service…mmmkay?…it is a FACT that when sprint started offering 4G SERVICE they initiated the data fee…until you have been here to the US Virgin Islands and experienced our crappy sprint “premium data” speeds go somewhere and put a duong in ur mouth and hush…

            when you see two grown people talking keep your comments to yourself…thank you

          • ryan rochford

            I know what I am talking about. I have been selling sprint for 4 years, and worked for a dealer at the time of the 4G wimax rollout, and the roll out of the premium data charge, and i work for a corporate store now.

            Sprint never once called it a 4G fee, it was never a 4g fee. Sprint originally rolled it out when the HTC EVO and samsung epic 4g originally rolled out, knowing full well that the iPhone was in the pipeline, the knew how data hungry those devices would be, they also knew it was not viable to have someone with a phone that had the kind of processing power those media hungry devices have and how connected they were, and they couldn’t have customers with those devices paying the same amount as someone with a flip phone or rumor touch.

            Also, other carriers were phasing out pure unlimited data while on their respective ‘home’ (as while in not roaming) networks, by caping and or throttling the data. Thus, Sprint enforced a ‘premium data’ fee (that is the wordage used in the soc codes, among sprint employees, and on sprint bills) for users of data hungry smartphones, rather then raising everyones bills. the only exception to this was the samsung replenish, which had the premium data fee waved, saving customers $240 over the length of the contract over other smart phones.

            so yes, i know what im talking about and no sprint customer has ever paid a “4g fee” once in their life as an MRC on their bill and I challenge both of you to show me a screenshot of a sprint bill or press release directly out of sprints mouth that speaks of a “4g fee”

          • malcmilli

            sprint DID in fact label as a 4g fee at launch, they later rebranded the fee once people who didnt have 4g in their area were upset they were paying a 4g surcharge.

          • ryan rochford

            @malcmilli:disqus do you have this shown on your bill or proof of this in a statement from sprint?

            Im pretty sure the users labeled it a “4g fee” because the EVO was the first phone to require it, followed by the samsung epic 4g touch, then every phone needed it. but the fact that the only phones that required it were 4g devices was a coincidence, and was mainly due to the fact that these devices were known to cause a load on the network due to how much data they used. I have never personally seen a sprint document with the term 4g fee used. only blog articles which can make mistakes.

          • malcmilli

            so just because the term “4g” wasn’t specifically used than it can’t be classified as a 4g charge? It was a “premium data add on charge” that ONLY applied to phones capable of 4g connectivity… that fact that you call that a coincidence is quite ridiculous. You even admit they were only applied to those devices because only those devices had access to 4g…

          • ryan rochford

            so you are saying that because you assume its for 4g it must be true? Im saying it was never labeled, branded, or called a 4g fee, and it is not to bring you 4g service… it is for premium data. if you have proof of it being a 4g fee, then pics or go home. read the thread i linked from sprint.com, a moderator on there does a good job of clearing it up.

          • malcmilli

            ok numerous sprint employees have done a good job explaining to me the data charge was for at the time i purchased my phone. I’m sorry but sprint doesn’t show bills past 2 years, so a bill from 2010 would be extremely hard to find. Do you mind explaining to me your definition of premium data?

          • Azmon Rougier

            no…i am not assuming anything…the fee was started SPECIFICALLY FOR HTC Evo 4G when it was released and then the Samsung EPIC 4G…the only two 4G phones Sprint had at the time…there were NO 3G phones that required the add-on fee…when Sprint started getting hit with lawsuits left and right from people who were not getting 4G service they re-branded the fee…

            dude…i LIVED IT…ur googling it…

            here are a couple articles from May 2010…looooong before june 2012 that the moderator in your link claimed was the start of the $10 data fee:

            read and learn to not argue about things you have to google mmmkay?

            http://androidandme.com/2010/05/news/sprint-evo-4g-data-gets-mandatory-10-premium-29-for-mobile-hotspot/

            http://androidandme.com/2010/05/news/special-plans-are-being-created-for-the-sprint-evo/

            make sure to read the PR text at the end of this next engadget article from Sprint themselves announcing the HTC Evo 4G…pay close attention to the part that reads, AND I QUOTE:

            “A $10 per month Premium Data add-on will apply allowing customers to take advantage of a RICHER DATA EXPERIENCE than ever before.”

            http://www.engadget.com/2010/05/12/sprint-selling-htc-evo-4g-on-june-4-for-199/

            http://www.androidcentral.com/how-do-you-feel-about-evo-4g-pricing

            http://www.phonescoop.com/articles/article.php?a=5973

            and just for good measure…a screenshot of Sprint’s page from 2010…

            /discussion

          • HotInEER

            No, it was a 4g fee. I remember it plain as day. They changed it not to long after that because people were complaining about having to pay a $10 fee for no 4g. I know some people who even called Sprint and complained and they were given a $10 credit each month to off set that because they were not in a wi max area. Then Sprint decided to change it to a premium data fee on all smartphones to get around it.

          • squiddy20

            No, Sprint never labeled it a 4G fee. That was the users (us) who labeled it as such simply because it was at first applicable only to the new Wimax phones. It was always labeled as a “premium data add-on/fee”. Go look through any of the articles written on the topic at the time it was rolled out and show me where Sprint ever referred to it as a “4G fee”.
            Edit: I see you’ve already had this conversation. But you did say “sprint DID in fact label it as a 4g fee at launch”, and that simply isn’t true. Might want to check your “facts” next time.

          • malcmilli

            Ok you’re right wasnt literally “labelled” as such it was just positioned as such. We can play the semantics game but charging a premium data add on fee for only wimax capable phones due to their “access to the 4G network” is pretty much labeling it a 4g fee. Especially since it was not applicable to all smart phones, but that fee is now applied to all smartphones, which is where the “re-branding” comes into play.

          • techgui

            the fee was originally applied to Wimax enabled devices like the OP said.

          • El Bello

            I have a smart phone and I don’t pay that $10 fee so i guess i got lucky.

        • ryan rochford

          no, they added it when vzw dumped unlimited data. on the new “my way’ plans you can opt to not pay the fee, and then your single smart phone drops from 80 a month back down to 70….but you only get 1GB. so im down to pay $10 for unlimited 3g and 4g data, if your not have fun with vzw and their prices….

          • Azmon Rougier

            sprint initiated it’s premium data add-on in June of 2010 when they release their first 4G phone the HTC EVO which I owned…

            verizon stopped offering unlimited data in july of 2011 when they introduced their tiered plans…

            once again…stick to what you know…

          • ryan rochford
          • Azmon Rougier

            lmfao!!!!! end of discussion???

            http://androidandme.com/2010/05/news/sprint-evo-4g-data-gets-mandatory-10-premium-29-for-mobile-hotspot/

            and again…stick to what you know…

          • Duong Duc Ngo

            It not a 4g fee anymore. All smart phone has it. If you going to use a source please use a primary source like straight for the company and not a blog again stick to what you know which is not much. Again all smart has that fee. The right why they change it was because people was being charge that fee even if they did not have 4g. How can it be a 4g fee if you don’t even have it. God you are not very smart.

          • Azmon Rougier

            WRONG!…they changed the fee to encompass ALL smartphones only after they started getting hit with lawsuits from people not receiving 4G service…please read this entire thread…i have already proven that i know what i’m talking about…

            here you go: http://community.sprint.com/baw/message/558499

            read that thread…and learn english comprehension

          • squiddy20

            From the Android And Me article you referenced: ” If you buy the Sprint 4G EVO, you have to pay this $10 charge each month. This is specific to the device. It’s not related to whether you are using 3G or 4G. It is required if you have the phone.” Key phrase being “not related to whether you use 3G or 4G”. Way to prove yourself wrong.

      • malcmilli

        the premium fee originally was only set on new phones launched with “4g capabilities” hence why i had to pay the fee when i bought my Evo 4g and why my mother didnt have to pay for it on her samsung instinct… eventually the re-branded the fee n applied it to everyone

  • earth

    IL and PA have a lot of 800Mhz voice already turned on. Several are reporting significant improvements with coverage, especially indoors. Any site upgraded with NV will eventually be turned on with 800 (LTE and voice). Most devices within last 2 years can do 800 voice, will need new phone coming later this year to do 800 LTE. It will also do 2500 LTE as they deploy it later.

    • dandybuck

      how can they notice improvements if there are no phones that support it?

      • NYCHitman1

        There are devices that support 800 Voice.

        • earth

          Yeah, most devices within last 2 years support 800 voice.

  • John Mitchell Sr

    Did you know Sprint is also having problems with their network.! You can make calls out but can’t receive calls in on you for even if you on the smartphone Sprint network and not on the Nextel network. ….. more and more every day Sprint is starting to get a lot of customers upset they are going too lose a lot of customers if they keep this up!

    • earth

      Which is why then need to get 800Mhz turned on ASAP. It’s rolling out now.

  • JaswinderSinghJammu

    All I am going to say is Sprint really sucks for now. They have the recipe for being the best in the business with 6 months to a yr but lets see if they can execute the plan or be sucky as usual

    • earth

      Yeah, agree. Sprint has all the pieces in place now but needs to prove they can execute nationwide. Softbank’s $16B investment increases chances of success but they need to show they can execute.

  • yankeesusa

    All i know is that unless they can get better by december I will be paying the rest of my etf and going with tmobile. Unless they the note 3 is 800mhz and sprint gives me some type of credit plus what I can sell my current note 2 for I will not be staying with them. I just tasted hsdpa+ in my area from tmobile and I hit between 8-12mpbs on regular basis. Not to mention they already get great signal indoors and a couple of lte towers have been going up.

    • earth

      Tmobile is doing a great job rolling out LTE and they have HSPA to back up on but they don’t have a lower band and may have a harder time competing on coverage once Sprint completes 800Mhz rollout. Wherever Sprint has 1900LTE, it will also get 800 – it just needs to be turned on. But yeah, agree that if Sprint doesn’t get better by end of year, dump them.

  • No_Nickname90

    Sprint took too long to come out with this. I already left. This sounds like good news. That 800Mhz sounding lovely. And tri-band? Sounds like y’all goin’ have reception where ever you go.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=708741524 Robb Nunya

    I have an upgrade in October… Looks like I’ll be looking for a tri-band phone at that time.