Sprint to Aggressively Rollout LTE Over 1900MHz Spectrum Starting Mid-2012 Along With Capable Devices, Network Largely Complete by 2013


Sprint has just announced that they will be rolling out 4G LTE aggressively over their 1900MHz spectrum. I know people were hoping they’d shut down the iDEN network by now to make way for a new 4G network on that 800MHz spectrum but they won’t complete the shutdown until mid-2013 when they’ve been able to migrate all their customers.

We were hoping they’d launch LTE on their 800MHz spectrum but they note that they will use that spectrum for 3G calling in order to improve call performance.

The good news is that Sprint’s already working on this and are working to get things going in mid-2012. And when do they expect it all to end? Mid-2013. That’s a great and very ambitious goal. They expect to cover 260 markets by the end of all this, a lot more than their current WiMax coverage.

And if you’re in a 3G coverage area you can expect to get 4G sooner or later – all of their 3G areas will have 4G by the end of it all. Sprint mentioned they have been working hard on 3G-to-4G handoff technology to make it truly seamless.

It will be a great turnaround compared to WiMax whose rollout has been at a standstill. WiMax from Clearwire still doesn’t cover more than half of American citizens. With LTE, Sprint is able to roll things out at their own pace and there should be no unexpected road bumps as they have already put aside the budget for the rollout.

Alongside 4G LTE, they believe all of the technical and economic changes they’ve made (we won’t get into extreme detail) will help 3G performance. Faster speeds, improved coverage and more are all benefits of this Network Vision upgrade. They say 3G isn’t on the backburner because of LTE, either, as they have committed to 3G long term.

As for other stuff, they’ve confirmed that they will be rolling out WiFi calling support starting this month. Very little devices are supported right now but we know the HTC EVO 3D has that functionality.

So what do you guys think about today’s announcements? All of this is honestly happening way faster than I thought it would. I knew Sprint had a plan for the future but I didn’t think It’d take them just two years to come to fruition. It will be exciting to see how they compete with Verizon who expects their 4G network to be complete by the end of 2013 as well.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. This is great news for Sprint customers imo. I’m glad to see that they are doing something lately to keep us happy. The only thing left is for them to talk about the rest of Network Vision (rollout of EVDO Rev. B, or the conversion of towers to 3-to-1).

    1. I didn’t mention the towers but they are definitely using new technology for the rollout. Decongested footprint with one unit and tower for multiple spectrums and technologies.

      1. Did they mention any kind of time frame that we should start seeing improvements?

        1. All of it along with 4G LTE will be deployed mid-2012. Not sure how immediate after their formal launch 3G users should see improvements

          1. That will be great, as I’ll be going for my upgrade from my EVO 4G, that I got launch day, shortly after that.

            HTC EVO LTE?

  2. Look, even Sprint can switch over to LTE without buying a competitor.

    1. never thought of it that way. Good Point!

    2. HAHAHA take that at&t, it can be done.

    3. The only reason is because they are turning off the Nextel iDEN network in 2013. In 2012 the LTE rollout will be on 1900 MHz (at the cost of affecting current 3G) and so that will be weak until iDEN conversion is complete. T-Mobile has no bandwidth for LTE.

      1. I think the 1900 MHz spectrum that they plan to use is the spectrum that Nextel was promised once they reconfigured the 800 MHz spectrum that had problems with public safety users. Sprint has been managing and paying for that spectrum transition for years. It looks like they will now get to use it.

      2. I don’t believe that this impacts their existing 1900 MHz PCS spectrum being used for CDMA. I also think that the iDEN 800 MHz spectrum is being repurposed to enhance CDMA coverage.

        I thought that I read somewhere that they would use some 800MHz spectrum for LTE, but can not find that now. It might have been someone’s assumption rather than a fact in any case.

    4. Umm… they bought Nextel…

      1. Years ago, dude. Geeze.

        1. You didn’t understand Robb Numya’s comment. He is responding to PimpStrong’s comment. Robb is saying that the only reason Sprint is able to deploy LTE is because they bought Nextel so that is why they have the bandwitdh for LTE. He is negating PimpStrong’s comment that T-Mobile should be able to deploy LTE. So he has known that Sprint owns Nextel….it wasn’t a question or a surprised comment…it was a statement.

          1. I don’t mean to be weird about his comment, but when Nextel was bought (strategically speaking) They got it strictly for businesses. People always on the road who need a heavy duty phone and easy communication with their company. It was a good move too, businesses that are always on the move can use Sprint and keep in constant contact with their tank phones.

  3. My EVO 3D will be crap then. I don’t have 4g in my area and will never get 4g with my current phone. Kinda BS in a way.

    1. I’ve got an OG EVO, so i’m definitely in the same boat. I justify the $10 add-on with the knowledge that i *still* pay less than i would on AT&T or Verizon.

      1. The justification alone would be true unlimited data.

      2. you could also justify the $10 add-on in that ALL smartphones have the fee now regardless of if they have WiMax or not.

        1. It was never a Wimax fee anyway. It was for all high end smartphones that use a ton of data and it took you from the old 5GB soft cap on 3G to unlimited, uncapped 3G and Wimax at less than the cost of limited data on the competition. Can’t say this enough times and people still insist on calling it a Wimax fee.

    2. That’s why I haven’t upgraded my EVO 3G yet.

      1. You mean your EVO 4G?

        1. LOLOLOL

  4. It’s all BS. Any current 4g phone from Sprint won’t work on LTE. (including the new iPhone 4S) Totally different radio. If you want LTE, you’ll have to get a new phone.

    1. What’s your point? You act like people don’t go out and buy new devices every day. There are plenty of people in the world that just buy the next and best for the sake of having the latest tech out there.

    2. no iPhone 4s will have 4g so stop whining, you won’t get LTE on verizon either with it…

      what you will have is a more stable network next time you upgrade, im excited for LTE as it is far superior to WiMax…

      maybe customers will actually USE 4g with LTE, because as of right now if you use 4g is will feast on your battery like no other!

      anyway as much as i want the Nexus Prime on sprint whenever it lauches, i would much rather wait till mid 2012 and get a LTE Android power house and just root the sucker

      1. Noooo, don’t wait for the new 4G rollout. Get a new phone when you can, and then when the time comes, sell it and get a new one. Sitting on the dark end of tech isn’t worth it these days.

    3. I passed on sprint for me and my father’s new phone when we went shopping around a few months ago because I didn’t want to get stuck with wiimax.

  5. Yes good to hear sprint is going to improve everything if they want to stay in the mobile race this was very much needed as their network has not been even OK lately. I am sure if I stay with sprint with my true unlimited plan I will be better off than switching to Verizon.

  6. Awesome news. Hopefully it clears up the WiMax system a bit too, so that it becomes slightly more stable, but its awesome either way.

    It’s funny, I feel like the only person who’s happy with my sprint coverage. I live in the suburb about 25miles away from Sacramento (which is a 4g market) and i usually get decent 4g signal, its quick, doesnt seem to eat too much of my battery, and very stable. But maybe Im just a freak:)

    1. I’m super happy with my coverage here in NYC/Greater Metro area. No complaints whatsoever.

  7. Hopefully my LTE is as good as my 3G is. I live less than a mile from a tower, and get 1.5 mbps on my sprint 3g. The crazy things is the fastest Internet offered here is only 1.5 mbps DSL, and i rarely get over 1mbps. So sounds like I’ll get fast LTE before I get cable Internet.

  8. In reviewing the live blog of the event there I still have an important, yet unanswered question: How long will Sprint support WiMax devices? We know that their agreement with Clearwire ends Dec 31, 2012; will the end of that agreement mean that devices who get 4G via WiMax will essentially become 3G devices?

    With my last Premiere Gold upgrade weeks away, do you folks think I should hold off on upgrading until devices that support LTE are available?

    Personally this announcement, while great in the long-term, is frustrating due to the termination of Sprint Premiere; as a 10+ year Sprint user the yearly upgrade was a great benefit given because of my loyalty to Sprint and, if Premiere Gold was not terminated this announcement wouldn’t impact my (and thousands of other folks) decision because another yearly upgrade would occur prior to then end of the Clearwire/WiMax agreement.

    Today’s announcement helps me understand that LTE and not the iPhone was the reason for the termination of the Premiere program. The “New for You” upgrade program (horrible brand name by the way: screams used-car dealership or refurbished device) means everyone upgrades every 22 months. While this potentially will provide Sprint with an increased revenue stream in device sales by current customers who want the latest must-have device and pay full price rather than wait almost 2 years for their upgrade; in the end Sprint is sending a clear message about how they value of long-term Sprint customers.

    1. I think Sprints “New For You” program will actually allow you to upgrade at 20 months.

  9. cool, it will be complete by the time my contract is over and i can swithch :D

  10. Finally! I thought I would get 4G service from Sprint when I purchased my OG Evo near its launch date. I later found it that it wouldn’t be coming to my area and was still required to continue paying the additional $10 per month for premium data sevices without the 4G.

    1. Yeah but it removed the 5GB soft cap and gave you access to Wimax if you ever went to a larger city where they offer it. I’ve had it since day one and honestly I don’t even use it often. I’m usually in Wifi range when I am downloading a big file or streaming video. When I am out and about it’s just simpler to leave it on 3g. I don’t like paying more money either but even $10 more for the new range of data-hungry smart phones is cheaper than the limited plans on ATT or VZW.

  11. Spint “aggressively expanding”? I’ll believe it when I see it. Let’s hope that Dan Hesse looks up “aggressive” and “expanding” in his little dictionary. Although he was proud of himself to find the definition of “unlimited”, I don’t think they know what “aggressive expansion” is. They should look at Verizon’s LTE expansion and take notes.

    1. I’m sure that Dan Hesse plans on doing as he said. With LTE, Sprint would become a true juggernaut, especially with unlimited data, top of the line Androids and the iPhone (Though I hate that thing.) Sprint really has gotten on track as far as what will bring in consumers and keep consumers even though it took some sacrifice.

  12. I’m really happy Sprint is making his change. Just got the EVO 3d so my next phone will be 4g LTE! And we can actually find and connect to 4g now!!!! Lol

  13. Question: How will the 1900mhz spectrum do for building penetration? I know Wimax was pretty terrible.

    Also shit yeah for WiFi calling on the 3vo!

  14. I’ll believe it when I see it. I got burned once already by their dead in the water WiMAX rollout.

  15. That is great news..

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