Sprint Is Making Its LTE Move

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Confusion and Skepticism May Impede 4G Adoption

With so many potential 4G customers expressing concerns about cost and performance providers may be in for some disappointment.

Long-term evolution (LTE) is the cellular networking platform of the moment. Deployment, to date, has been dominated in the United States by Verizon Wireless and AT&T. That makes sense, of course, since they are the top two carriers. But they are not alone.

Sprint is the third largest carrier. The company had some false starts on 4G. Reports from different quarters make it clear that it is making a concerted effort to right the ship during 2012.

According to the carrier's website, it already offers 4G in a variety of cities in 27 states and the District of Columbia. Those networks, however, use the WiMax 4G technology that the company launched in association with Clearwire. Sprint is backing away from that arrangement. That's not the only unfortunate liaison Sprint had: It had partnered with embattled LightSquared. Sprint has ended the relationship.

Sprint now is warming up to LTE. GigaOm said that field testing of the LTE network is winding down and that the company plans to sell no more WiMax phones. Sprint made separate announcements that it plans to launch networks in Baltimore, Kansas City and Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio during 2012. PCWorld's Sasha Segan tweeted what is purported to be a picture representing the company's network and roaming territory in 2014.

Sprint is also set to welcome in new phones. Rethink Wireless reports that a leaked Wal-Mart memo suggests that the Galaxy Nexus and LG Viper may be available in April.

The bottom line is that Sprint has had a rather troubled introduction of 4G, but is making a concerted effort to catch up. The next quarter should be quite interesting and will go a long way to determining if AT&T and Verizon Wireless have a strong competitor or a wannabe.