Sprint to cover over 120 million Americans with 4G LTE by Christmas

Sprint’s going to launch a 4G LTE network this summer that’ll initially cover five to six cities. By the end of the year, Sprint expects to cover over 123 million Americans, and by the end of next year they expect that figure to climb to 250 million Americans. To put that number into some perspective, Verizon covers more than 200 million people right now, as in today, and they expect to reach 260 million people by the end this Christmas. AT&T covers less than 75 million people today with 4G LTE, but they say they’ll double that by the close of the year. So is Sprint catching up to the big boys? Hardly. According to Bob Azzi, Senior Vice President of Sprint’s Network, he says: “2014 is the big year.

What happens in 2014? Sprint is going to turn on 4G LTE in the 800 MHz band. That spectrum is currently being used for iDEN, better known as push to talk. Less than 6 million people are currently using that network, which means that prime real estate spectrum is being underutilized. Once Sprint moves some of their 4G LTE to that band however, they’ll be much better able to compete with the likes of AT&T and Verizon, who own spectrum in the 700 MHz band. Sprint’s network will use half the amount of spectrum (5 MHz down, 5 MHz up) that AT&T and Verizon use (both do 10 MHz down, 10 MHz up), but Sprint has half the number of customers, so … less load equals more speed? We’ll find out.

Should you care about any of this? That’s debatable. We’ve always questioned the usefulness of 4G LTE on a smartphone. This writer is on a data plan that’s capped at 1 megabit per second down and he’s never thought to himself that it was somehow “slow”. If you’re the “must share every piece of media I capture on the three or more social networks I use” type, then yes, you’ll probably appreciate the higher upload speeds that 4G LTE offers.

[Additional Reading: Fierce Wireless]

  • Anonymous

    Really don’t care what you consider to be fast.  I am curious what Sprint will be doing with their iden PTT customers.

    • They’ll be transitioning them to CDMA’s implementation of push-to-talk.

      Do you still use iDEN? I’m curious.

      • Anonymous

        No I’ve never used it, but I think it’s a neat technology.

        I was curious if there was an LTE version of iden, and it’s also indicative of how Sprint treats its customers.  There’s an app, tikl, that I think tries to do what iden did, push to talk, and it might be nice if that ability had direct LTE support.

        Before AT&T sold off to Cingular I was an AT&T customer and I gradually realized my calls were getting worse and worse.  AT&T was transitioning to I guess what they have now, and they weren’t fixing towers, nor were they giving customers notice of their maltreatment or giving us an option to change phones at a discount.

        • America being as large as it is, I’m just going to recommend you ask people in your local community about which operator is giving them the best service. Some are better than others depending on your zip code.

  • Allan Gutierrez

    So I’m assuming 

  • Allan Gutierrez

    So I’m assuming this current crop of upcoming LTE phones, galaxy nexus, viper, evo 4g lte will work on the upcoming 800 MHz band (isnt the LTE network this year on 1900 MHz)?

    • I’ll have to double check on that to be honest.

      • Allan Gutierrez

        That could be a big issue if the phones released this year are not compatible with   the new, better LTE band.  What would the actual difference be between the two LTE bands? Traffic? Speed? Please let me know if you find an answer!

        • We’re probably not going to get any additional details until the network actually launches, which is at least a quarter away, if not more. Sadly.

          • Allan Gutierrez

            Thanks.  Appreciate your info!

        • cashd00d

          Building penetration.

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