Sprint details plans for 4G LTE rollout

Sprint Dan Hesse

Sprint has finally gotten the iPhone—and now the carrier is looking to move aggressively into the world of 4G LTE mobile broadband, announcing in a network strategy session for investors (Webcast) plans to roll out LTE service in 120 U.S. markets by the end of 2012, and expand that to about 260 markets by the end of 2013. The company also says it plans to launch its first LTE devices in 2012—with the first to come in the summer—with a total of a dozen or more available by year-end.

The announcement comes as part of Sprint’s broader Network Vision plan, which sees the company continuing to bridge multiple network technologies across its systems, even as it moves forward with previously-announced plans to phase out Nextel iDEN service in 2013. Sprint’s LTE network will be based around 1.9 GHz spectrum, and the rollout will be augmented by a network-sharing deal with LightSquared—this summer Sprint announced a 15-year, $9 billion deal with LightSquared that has LightSquared paying Sprint to roll out a terrestrial LTE network to support LightSquared’s satellite-based service, and which gives Sprint an option to use up to 50 percent of the network’s capacity—in exchange, LightSquared gets a ground network and access to Sprint’s 3G services. Sprint will continue operating its CDMA-based 3G service to cover areas that aren’t served by WiMax or LTE.

Sprint’s decision to rely on LightSquared is contingent on LightSquared getting full approvals to launch its satellite-based services. LightSquared has attracted controversy over potentially blocking low-powered GPS signals. LightSquared says it has mitigated the problems by shifting to a new set of frequencies for its initial rollouts, and claims interference problems are GPS makers’ faults.

Sprint indicated it plans to continue to sell 4G WiMax devices in partnership with Clearwire though at least the end of 2011. Clearwire is also looking to add LTE services to its existing 4G network in the 71 markets in which it operates: if Clearwire can secure funding for the upgrade and to continue operating its network, Clearwire could significantly augment Sprint’s 4G offerings. However, if Clearwire can’t scare up money to convert to LTE and keep the lights on, it’s days may be numbered.

The question is whether Sprint is too late pulling the trigger on LTE services: Verizon Wireless says it will have LTE service operating in more than 160 U.S. markets this month, and AT&T is already running in five major cities with plans for additional rollouts this year—and that’s on top of HSPA+ 3G services. Sprint already has 4G WiMax offerings in many markets, but won’t be able to offer its first LTE devices (in limited markets, no doubt) until mid-2012. Will that be too late?

Gaming

Has it really been 17 years? The past, present, and future of the Xbox

From DirectX Box to 720, it's been a long, strange trip for Microsoft's Xbox gaming console. Here is what happened, from its odd beginnings to the rumored Scarlett console with streaming.
Mobile

The OnePlus 3 & 3T both receive an open beta for Android Pie

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Mobile

The Pixel 3 range will soon be coming to T-Mobile's network

Google's latest flagships, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, are now official and we have all the details from the October 9 event in New York City and Paris. Here's everything we know about the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.
Mobile

The Department of Justice may prevent the T-Mobile-Sprint merger

T-Mobile and Sprint are getting closer to merging. After a few failed attempts, the two companies announced their merger at the start of 2018. The new T-Mobile could be better positioned to take on the likes of Verizon and AT&T.
Android

The dramatic BlackBerry Key2 Red Edition is now available in the U.S.

BlackBerry's Key2 is likely to be the best keyboard-equipped phone in 2019, with a modern look, some powerful specs, and totally revamped features. Here's everything you need to know about it.
Computing

Want to make calls across the internet for less? Try these great VOIP services

Voice over IP services are getting more and more popular, but there are still a few that stand above the pack. In this guide, we'll give you a few options for the best VOIP services for home and business users.
Deals

Apple iPads and iPad Pros get price cuts up to $150 on Amazon

In the market for a new iPad? Now might be the time to buy -- Amazon has discounted a range of iPad models, including the 10.5-inch, 11-inch, and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, plus the standard iPad.
Mobile

The Best iPhone 7 battery cases to give your phone some extra juice

The iPhone 7 doesn't have terrible battery life, but you never know when you'll need to juice up on the go. To help, here are the best iPhone 7 battery cases that can keep your smartphone charged and ready for long-term use.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Samsung Galaxy Fold woes, zombie pigs, and more

Today's topics: Samsung Galaxy Fold, Facebook A.I. voice assistants, YouTube comes to Fire TV, facial recognition on airline flights, the SpaceX DART program, Yale's zombie pigs, and much more!
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10 update gives manual control of Bright Night mode

Samsung 2019 flagship smartphone lineup is here, and there aren't just two phones as usual — there are four. There's the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, as well as a new entry called the S10e, as well as the Galaxy S10 5G.
Deals

The excellent Moto G6 is just $99 from Google Fi for a limited time

Getting a cheap smartphone can be a great way to squeeze value out of your dollars. Motorola's Moto G-range has always been good value, but never better than this: Get the Moto G6 for just $99 from Google Fi.
Mobile

Keep your huge phone beautiful with the best iPhone XS Max cases

Apple's iPhone XS Max might be the best large phone the company has ever released. But a bigger OLED display and body means there's more glass to crack. Keep your massive phone safe with the best iPhone XS Max cases.
Deals

Ultra Wideband is here, and you can use it with the 5G Moto Mod (and save $150)

5G is rolling out in the U.S., and Motorola’s Moto Z3 is one of the few phones that can use it. Select people can take advantage of Verizon’s 5G service and enjoy a $150 discount with the purchase of a Moto Z3 and 5G Moto Mod bundle.
Deals

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Everything you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a few months off, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.