Sprint has suggested it could have a nationwide 4G LTE network in place and operational by the end of 2013, though the carrier’s apparent consideration of LTE could well be in part a negotiating tactic with its Clearwire WiMAX partner. Steve Elfman, Sprint’s president of network operations and wholesale, confirmed this week that the carrier could have LTE operation and devices on the marker by 2012, FierceWireless reports; however, Elfman also said no final decision would be made until midway through this year.
That gives Sprint and Clearwire time to negotiate their ongoing dispute over wholesale profit sharing. Earlier in the week, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse suggested that, while “Our Plan A is together with Clearwire, but we do have a Plan B … If we don’t reach agreement, we will go and do our own thing.” Subsequently, however, Hesse said he believed the pricing dispute would likely be resolved.
That could mean the LTE talk was Sprint playing hardball, trying to persuade Clearwire that it was willing to go it alone should negotiations not fall in its favor. However, with LTE catching on not only with Verizon’s network in the US, but appearing on the roadmaps of European and Asian carriers, it’s possible that Sprint may decide to switch on the basis of compatibility.