Having seen its WiMAX network go the way of Sony’s BetaMAX, Sprint has turned on its LTE network, known as Network Vision, in 15 cities in Georgia, Kansas, Missouri and Texas. The initial deployment covers users in the Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio markets.
Sprint plans to launch additional LTE markets in the second half of 2012 with the completion of the nationwide network slated for the end of 2013. Along with the 4G rollout, Sprint promised the deployment of an “all-new enhanced” 3G network covering 250 million people across nation.
Neal Gompa of the Extreme Tech web site raises questions about whether Sprint’s Network Vision will produce 4G speeds because of backhaul and spectrum limitations (5 megahertz downlink and 5 megahertz uplink). But help is on the way. The carrier plans to use Clearwire’s 2500 MHz service, which will launch at 5,000 TD-LTE cell sites in June 2013, and it will deploy LTE on its 800 MHz (formerly iDEN) network in 2014.
“Nationwide, Sprint [has a] throughput cap, as well as a capacity cap. However, it can be partially defeated by building a denser infrastructure,” Gompa wrote. “Sprint is also likely using relatively poor backhaul compared to AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Deploying LTE without improving the backhaul will result in speeds that most people commonly associate with 3G. Indeed, it compares only slightly favorably to AT&T’s HSPA service.”
While Sprint grabbed the headlines with its LTE rollout, Verizon Wireless continued its full-on assault making its LTE network available in 33 additional markets in July.
Verizon Wireless’ July launches will bring its total number of markets covered to 337. The 33 additional markets include smaller cities, such as El Dorado/Magnolia and Russellville, Ark.; New London County, Conn.; Fort Pierce and Melbourne/Titusville, Fla.; and Columbus and Rome, Ga. The company said it is on track to cover more than 400 U.S. markets by the end of 2012.
Also in July, the company expanded its 4G coverage in 32 existing LTE markets, including Mobile, Ala.; Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; and Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Sarasota/Bradenton, Fla.
Meanwhile, AT&T has added LTE service in several markets in 2012 and is now live in 47, reaching more than 260 million people.
“AT&T might be playing catch-up with Verizon, but with more than 40 cities either covered or soon to be active, it’s clear that AT&T’s taking it seriously,” wrote Jamie Keene in The Verge.
In July, AT&T turned on its LTE network in Buffalo; Burlington, N.C.; Corpus Christi, Texas; Gainsville, Ga.; Winston-Salem and Greensboro, N.C., Wichita, Kan. June brought LTE service to Nashville and Lawrenceburg, Tenn. In March, AT&T announced its LTE service plans scheduled for April, May and into the early summer to several markets, including Cleveland, Akron and Canton, Ohio; Naples, Fla.; Bloomington, Lafayette and Muncie, Ind.; Baton Rouge and New Orleans, La.; St. Louis, Mo.; Bryan-College Station, Texas; and Staten Island in New York City.
T-Mobile, which is in the early stages of equipping its towers with LTE equipment, launched HSPA+ (what it calls 4G) in Abilene, Amarillo, Odessa, and Victoria, Tex; Bakersfield, CA; Eau Claire, Wis.; Joplin and St. Joseph, Mo., in March and now covers. 220 million people in 229 markets with the technology that has theoretical download speeds of 42 mbps
T-Mobile’s latest ad does a nice job of educating the public about wireless infrastructure, showing its spokes-model Carly Foulkes riding her Ducati motorcycle past several of the carrier’s more than 35,000 cell towers.
“The great news for our customers is that we’re continually making the T-Mobile 4G experience faster and more dependable as we modernize the network in 2012 – improving signal strength, in-building coverage and device choice – and prepare to launch LTE next year,” Neville Ray, chief technology officer, wrote in his blog. “Our new ‘towers’ ad is just another way we’re letting our customers know they’re covered by T-Mobile’s 4G network.”