Sprint started off 2011 unsure about its plans for future 4G connectivity. This past summer, after careful consideration, the carrier finally decided that its future was not with WiMAX, but LTE instead. Clearwire, provider of Sprint’s WiMAX service, was already planning to go LTE itself, and Sprint made a new deal with LightSquared to build-up an all-new LTE network. How, though, are all these changes going to roll out? A new report from CNET aims to answer some of our questions, ahead of Sprint’s planned official statement on October 7.
According to the report, Sprint will start building-up its new network with LightSquared by using frequency holdings it acquired from Nextel. These will include bands currently used for iDEN, once Sprint transitions all its PTT service over to CDMA. On the Clearwire side of things, the company is trying to secure funding for its own LTE upgrade, and if it happens, we’ll see that service introduced on its current WiMAX frequencies.
The big problem seems like it would be that the LightSquared LTE and what Clearwire’s proposing aren’t just on different bands, but use different, incompatible flavors of LTE. Supposedly, Sprint would get around this by equipping its phones with chips capable of navigating on either network.
If all goes to plan, we might see an initial launch of the Sprint’s LTE service during the first half of next year. Hopefully we’ll get a fuller sense of that timeline once Sprint details its plans on October 7.