Sprint launches 4G LTE in 15 cities

Now Sprint's four LTE smartphone can use the faster speeds

Sprint announced Monday it had launched its 4G LTE network in 15 cities, mainly in areas surrounding the major markets of Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio.

Residents in and around Waco, Texas, were also added to the LTE network, up from the original five major areas that Sprint envisioned in June.

The new LTE network is "performing extremely well and customers should find it consistent, reliable and really fast," said Bob Azzi, senior vice president of networks at Sprint, in a statement.

Sprint said more cities will be added in the second half of 2012, with a nationwide buildout "largely completed" by the end of 2013 to reach 250 million people across the U.S.

For use with LTE and selling for $199.99 each, Sprint offers several smartphones, including the HTC Evo 4G LTE, the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, as well as the $99.99 LG Viper 4G and a 4G Tri-Fi Hotspot for $99.99. Sprint, the number three national network, still offers Everything Data plans for smartphones starting at $80 a month for unlimited data, texting and calling.

Sprint didn't state the network speeds of its LTE, although many LTE networks are 10 times faster than 3G networks. Verizon Wireless, which has LTE in 304 cities, has put average download speeds at up to 12 Mbps. AT&T has LTE in 47 markets, but hasn't stated an average speed.

Sprint already had rolled out WiMax as its faster 4G network starting in 2008, but last year declared it would adopt the more popular LTE instead, along with its massive Network Vision project that updates its 3G offerings as well. With Network Vision, Sprint will deploy multimode base stations throughout the U.S. that can host multiple types of networks.

The 15 cities in the current Sprint LTE network are: Atlanta, Athens, Calhoun, Carrollton, Newnan and Rome, Ga.; Dallas, Fort Worth, Granbury-Hood County, Houston, Huntsville, San Antonio and Waco, Texas; and St. Joseph and Kansas City, Mo.

Detailed maps are on Sprint's Web site.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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