Sprint will move to LTE-Advanced in 2013, unlimited data is here to stay
Sprint's vice president of network development and engineering, Iyad Tarazi, said that the carrier will be having LTE-Advanced Release 10 deployed in a 10x10 setup by the first half of 2013, to take advantage of its carrier aggregation feature, and bring 12-15 Mbps download speeds on average in realistic scenarios. Unlimited data is also here to stay, Sprint clarified, noting that it will be specifically building capacity to support what it views as one of its most strategic offerings.
The launch of its LTE services will start mid-2012 using the company's 1900 MHz spectrum, and move also to the 800MHz now occupied by iDEN. Sprint said it will have 250 million to 277 million POPs covered with LTE by the end of 2013, which means it will have a bigger LTE footprint than its existing CDMA network by that time. Where are Verizon and AT&T going to be then is another matter entirely.
At least 12 LTE devices are in store for next year and although they will be using the network just for data, Voice over LTE is to come at a later date, around the first quarter of 2013. The WiMAX network provided by Clearwire will be supported in the years ahead because of contractual obligations, so those who have WiMAX devices needn't worry, although Sprint will stop selling them at the end of 2012.
If you are also concerned about the download speeds with your shiny new iPhone 4S on Sprint, Mr Tarazi confirmed that the carrier will upgrade its EV-DO network as well to support the existing 3G smartphone customers. He expects the number of small femtocells deployed to grow to more than 1 million by the first half of 2013.
It certainly seems like Sprint is spreading itself pretty thin with so many wireless technologies to provide and support, but the ultimate goal apparently is LTE-Advanced, where Verizon and AT&T will be heading in the future too.