Sprint Nextel Corp.’s newest ultra-fast 4G service is coming to Kansas City by mid-year, a higher slot on the launch list than when its original 4G service began.
The wireless carrier based in Overland Park said Kansas City and Baltimore would join Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio as the first to see its high-speed service using Long Term Evolution, or LTE, technology.
Sprint is adding LTE 4G service as part of its massive network upgrade – which also will provide better 3G service to all of its customers, including those who bought iPhones.
The speed of the build-out in each market depends on various factors, including local zoning and permitting requirements.
Kansas City area municipalities process that work relatively quickly, said Bob Azzi, Sprint’s senior vice president of network. The headquarters site also had given the area a higher spot on the schedule.
“Kansas City is always toward the top of our list no matter what because it is our hometown,” Azzi said. “It is also one of our largest, in terms of subscriber counts. It is a big market for us.”
The 4G LTE devices also may hit the market about the same time as service in Kansas City. Sprint hasn’t set release dates on the Galaxy Nexus and LG Viper 4G LTE phones or the Sierra Wireless Tri-Network 3G, 4G and 4G LTE mobile hotspot.
The LTE rollout means Sprint customers face a 4G choice — LTE or WiMax. The Sierra Wireless hotspot is the only Sprint device so far that will use LTE and WiMax.
LTE’s clearly the future, but the WiMax network built by Clearwire Corp. already exists in more than 70 cities.
Verizon Wireless and AT launched their 4G services, using LTE, in Kansas City last fall.
Clearwire’s WiMax 4G network reached Kansas City in June 2010, days before Sprint offered its first 4G WiMax phones.
But WiMax rolled into 33 markets before making its debut in Kansas City.
“Clearwire’s a separate company from us,” Azzi said. “It was more their build than a Sprint build.”
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