Well, it’s not quite official but it looks like Sprint Nextel plans to launch its own 4G LTE network in early 2012.
The company is said to have installed LTE equipment and field testing the network in select areas but it’s unclear how many markets would get the service initially once it’s ready for prime time. The LTE rollout is part of the company’s broader Network Vision plan.
Once upon a time, Sprint had the technical and speed advantage over its competitors through its partnership with Clearwire and its 4G WiMax network, but now Verizon has taken the lead. An important factor to all of this is, the LTE project is expected to cost $4 billion to $5 billion over the next three to five years, swapping in new equipment that can run multiple wireless technologies, from its 3G CDMA network to LTE.
There is no doubt that Sprint is playing catch up to Big Red when it comes to the speediest LTE network. The Now Network plans to change this trend by implementing its improved LTE service over its attractive pricing plans and an unlimited data offering, which is day and night compared to both AT&T and Verizon. Nonetheless, Sprint is gearing up to end the year strong with its recent release of the Samsung Galaxy S II Epic Touch 4G and the rumored iPhone — all before the launch of its revamped LTE service.