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Sprint speeds LTE rollout, now starting in mid-2012

October 7, 2011 01:27 PM ET

Investors have been concerned about the expected cost of Sprint's move to LTE, especially after it rolled out Wimax on the Clearwire infrastructure. Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer argued that the Wimax move gave Sprint an early 4G lead, making the investment worthwhile.

Sprint has a two-year, $1 billion agreement to use Clearwire's Wimax network service through 2012, Hesse said, adding that Clearwire is also moving to a different version of LTE from Sprint as well.

Sprint expects to save $11 billion in the next six years with its so-called Network Vision project, first announced last year.

Sprint put the cost of the project at $4 billion to $5 billion at the time of the announcement, although analysts said Friday that it could be as high as $10 billion when LTE upgrades and other factors are fully accounted for.

The Network Vision project will consolidate Sprint's existing 3G CDMA network switches and cell tower antenna infrastructure with the coming 4G LTE network.

It also phases out the iDen network in 2013 that has been used to support Push-to-Talk (PTT) devices mostly used by service workers. Sprint launched PTT over its CDMA network on Oct. 2 while introducing a new ruggedized PTT phone.

The retired iDen network will free up 800 MHz spectrum that Sprint said it will "harvest" it for other purposes still being considered.

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

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