Sprint Could Light Up a 4G LTE Network by 2012

While Sprint is still determining its wireless strategy–the Now Network is partnering with Clearwire to use WiMax as its 4G platform–Sprint’s president of network operations and wholesale Steve Elfman says that the company could deploy a 4G network based on the competing LTE standard by 2012 and expand that to national coverage by 2013.

The carrier will not decide until mid-year what its network strategy will be. Sprint claims to be the first 4G carrier in the U.S. and had launched the Sprint HTC EVO 4G as the first 4G smartphone at the CTIA wireless trade show almost a year ago. Verizon Wireless had launched its LTE network late last year and at the beginning of this year at CES announced 4 Android smartphones for its 4G LTE network.

Sprint currently operates a 3G CDMA/EV-DO network along with an iDEN network, which the company is phasing out. It is partnering with Clearwire to deliver 4G on WiMax, which promises mobile broadband data download speeds of between 3-6 Mbps.

Sprint’s decision to go with LTE or remain with WiMax through Clearwire remains dependent on its negotiations with Clearwire. According to the carrier’s CEO, “Our Plan A is together with Clearwire, but we do have a Plan B.” The dispute between Sprint and Clearwire is over wholesale revenue sharing, and if that dispute is not resolved, Sprint could adopt LTE.

In the past, the carrier has said that LTE and WiMax were similar enough that it would be relatively easy for Sprint to switch to the rival technology if needed. The carrier had also indicated that it was exploring options with LTE in the past.

Rival carriers AT&T and Verizon Wireless will or are adopting LTE as its 4G next-generation network, which promises 10 times the speeds of 3G connections, according to Verizon. T-Mobile, the nations fourth largest carrier, is promoting its evolved 3G HSPA+ network as 4G because that protocol can currently deliver speeds that rival speeds of WiMax and LTE networks today. It’s unclear what standards T-Mobile USA will be adopting after HSPA+.

Via: Fierce Wireless