Sprint LTE phone coming this month for $100

Sprint Nextel Corp. on Tuesday gave its first peek at the pricing and availability of a phone capable of using its latest wireless broadband technology.

The Overland Park-based company said the Viper, produced by handset maker LG, will go on sale this month for about $100 after the customary rebates with the typical two-year contract. Such deals usually obligate a customer to spend more than $2,000 over the two years.

Sprint has also invited reporters to an event today in New York regarding its “latest collaboration” with phone maker HTC.

The new LG phone will operate on Sprint’s latest version of so-called 4G, or fourth-generation, data transfer technology. That wireless broadband technology — called LTE for “long-term evolution” — is expected to be available in Kansas City by midyear.

Sprint is working to replace its existing 4G WiMax network with an LTE system. The company said it expected that service to come on line in Kansas City, Baltimore, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio by the middle of this year.

The upgrade comes as part of a massive network modernization that should also deliver better 3G service, which should improve connections for its iPhone users.

Viper’s introduction could be tempting to customers looking for a relatively inexpensive smartphone able to tap into Sprint’s coming LTE network and faster download speeds. The phone is slightly larger than the iPhone. It runs on the Android operating system created by Google, but not the latest Ice Cream Sandwich version of the software. It meets several certification standards for being eco-friendly.

Customers can preorder the phone beginning April 12. It becomes available this month.