WiMax appears doomed in the US with Clearwire shutting down retail operations and LTE networks coming online as we speak. Sprint banked on a massive lead in the market for WiMax to offset the slower speeds compared to LTE and that significant lead didn’t get Sprint where it hoped to be. According to PCWorld Sprint is now looking at the future of 4G and eyeing LTE.
This is no surprise Sprint, changed some of its commitments months ago to allow it the possibility of using LTE in the future. PC World reports that at MWC Sprint Senior VP Bob Azzi hinted strongly that Sprint and its infrastructure partners are poised to start rolling out LTE networks in the near future. The three infrastructure partners for Sprint include Altec-Lucent, Samsung, and Ericsson. All three of those firms build both LTE and WiMax gear and some of that gear can support either network type.
Sprint has plenty of wireless spectrum to carry LTE with 120Mhz of spectrum in its bag for the 1900MHz band nationwide. I say it’s not a question of if Sprint will do LTE, but when. The company has likely known for a while the bet on WiMax was the wrong one and the problem now is that it has users on WiMax in some areas with devices and significant investment. Azzi reckons an LTE network to complement the WiMax one run by Clearwire is the route to take. I still don’t see WiMax customers with devices in hand being happy that WiMax will be limited to what is existing if Sprint goes LTE. That is nothing a free handset upgrade won’t fix though.