Right from the start, it should be clear that this was bound to happen. Even if we take a quick glance at the 4G-less past, back when we were still anticipating the debut of 4G here in the States, we knew that LTE was the future, not WiMAX, because of its capabilities to achieve significantly higher theoretic data speeds, as well as lower latency times. So, why did Sprint go for WiMAX initially? Well, our guess is that the carrier simply wanted to be ahead of the competition when it comes to outing a "4G network". And ahead it was - released on June 4, 2010, the HTC EVO 4G was the very first 4G phone in the U.S., arriving at the scene with a significant lead. But, while Sprint was enjoying its status of being the first carrier in the States to be able to brand its handsets "4G", Verizon was heavily investing in its future LTE network - a network which would be beneficial not only for the next couple of years, but in the long run as well.
Let's fast forward a year and observe today's landscape. As you all know, Verizon's LTE network is already up and running, and it also has a number of LTE smartphones in its line-up, including the much-anticipated DROID BIONIC. So, not only is Verizon enjoying a working 4G network of its own, it's also bringing 4G products to market, and working to expand its coverage. Meanwhile, AT&T's LTE pipelines are already operational, although the carrier still lacks an LTE phone in its ranks. And all of a sudden, it becomes clear that it is high time for Sprint to start a transition to what is known to be the mobile network technology of the future (of the near future, at least). That's exactly what we're seeing today, and that's why it is so important for Sprint to really catch up soon.
The nation's third-largest carrier does intend on catching up quickly, of course, as it has announced its plans for an aggressive LTE roll-out. In 2012, Sprint hopes to have built an LTE network as large as its current WiMAX one (judging by today's presentation, we shouldn't expect its WiMAX network to develop much from now on). And in 2013, the Now Network's LTE coverage should greatly surpass and overlap with its WiMAX coverage. Here's for hoping that Sprint has timed this one right, because it does look a bit like a last-minute move to us.
optimization of the network architecture. Finally, it will be able to concentrate on operating a single network, instead of the three it has now - CDMA, WiMAX and iDEN. All of that will fit into the carrier's future multi-mode base-stations, combining both its 3G and 4G pipelines. Naturally, this will allow the company to save significant resources. Secondly, it will be able to perform on par with its rivals, and specifically - with Verizon.
On the other hand, customers of the carrier will enjoy all the good stuff that comes with LTE technology - faster data rates, better performance due to lower latency, and eventually, better products, as it would be normal for manufacturers to become better at crafting LTE devices, since that will be the norm pretty soon. If Sprint is to be one of the very few carriers in the world sticking with WiMAX, sooner or later it would find itself in a position where its offerings would have become visibly inferior to those of the competition.
We should all be glad that Sprint has publicly announced its transition from WiMAX to LTE, and we also hope that the carrier will indeed succeed in pulling off its planned aggressive LTE roll-out. After all, we can only benefit from competition, so we don't want the Now Network to fail. They will still be producing WiMAX smartphones through 2012 though, and when you factor in the addition of the iPhone, who knows, this just might buy them enough time to catch up.