Sprint Nextel will launch its new high-speed wireless service in Kansas City and four other markets on July 15, signaling the beginning of an aggressive, nationwide rollout to catch up to its two larger rivals.
The 4G LTE service will also be offered in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, with more cities expected to be added later this year, the Overland Park-based company said Wednesday. Sprint’s chief executive, Dan Hesse, was in Atlanta to announce the product launch.
Sprint is involved in a sweeping $4 billion to $5 billion network upgrade, which it calls Network Vision.
The upgrade will allow the wireless company to provide the enhanced fourth-generation voice and data service using Long Term Evolution or LTE technology.
The network build-out also offers upgraded service to Sprint’s 3G or third-generation customers. Sprint said those customers should experience better signal strength, faster data speeds and better overall performance.
“The performance of both the 4G LTE and improved 3G networks are exceeding our expectations and we are pleased with the progress of the entire Network Vision program,” Hesse said in a statement.
Sprint, the nation’s third-largest wireless carrier, expects to have largely completed the build-out of Network Vision, which includes 12,000 cell tower sites, by the end of next year.
The carrier said it expects the investment in Network Vision to generate “$10 -$11 billion in net economic value” for the company through reduced roaming costs, cell site reductions, more efficient use of capital, and energy savings.
Sprint’s larger rivals, Verizon Wireless and AT&T, both have launched their own 4G service in Kansas City and other markets using LTE technology.
“Verizon and AT&T have a head start in LTE, but hopefully we will close the gap pretty soon,” Hesse told Bloomberg News. “We will be pushing hard to get more markets launched as soon as we possibly can.”
In addition to the network upgrade, Sprint has added the expensive iPhone to its product offerings in an effort to add customers, boost revenues and gain market share against its bigger rivals.
Sprint said it is now offering five 4G LTE-capable phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S III, and the HTC EVO. The phones offer unlimited data plans.