Sprint LTE coming 2012: WiMAX days are numbered

Chris Davies - Oct 7, 2011
Sprint LTE coming 2012: WiMAX days are numbered

The LTE push in the US continues to gather pace, with Sprint announcing that it will launch its own LTE in mid-2012 using the 1900MHz band. The new 4G network is expected to be built out by 2013, PCMag’s Sascha Segan reports, with WiMAX devices – using the 4G network the carrier has so far been pushing – remaining on sale through 2012.

The news will come as some frustration to long-time LTE deployment watchers, with the introduction of yet another band used for the 4G technology. Currently AT&T, Verizon, MetroPCS and LightSquared all use different frequencies for their LTE networks, and Sprint will introduce a fifth. In addition to 1900MHz, Sprint will use 800MHz by shifting iDEN users off the frequency by mid-2013 and, eventually, 1600MHz in partnership with LightSquared come 2015.

Meanwhile, Sprint plans to launch a “WiFi offloading technology” sometime this quarter, though details of the system are yet to be revealed. However, it’s presumably a way to shift data use off the mobile network and onto WiFi, likely a preventative measure ahead of the arrival of the iPhone 4S

The news confirms reports late last month regarding Sprint’s LTE ambitions, though it’s unclear whether the carrier does, as those leaks suggested, already have test networks installed and operational. It will need to settle the thorny matter of FCC approval before it can use LightSquared’s system, however.

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