Sprint adds Clearwire's 2.5 GHz band to LTE coverage area

Sprint (NYSE:S) soon will begin selling devices that can access LTE services across three separate bands: 800 MHz, 1900 MHz and 2.5 GHz. The carrier currently sells LTE devices that can access LTE on its 800 MHz and 1900 MHz spectrum, and starting later this week the carrier will add 2.5 GHz to that lineup.

Sprint first launched its LTE network on its 1900 MHz a year ago. The carrier at the end of last month shut down its iDEN network in its 800 MHz spectrum, freeing that band for its LTE network buildout.

And now, following the close of its acquisition of Clearwire, Sprint is adding Clearwire's 2.5 GHz spectrum to its LTE coverage portfolio.

Sprint said its 2.5 GHz spectrum "excels at broad-based, high-speed coverage, and  is expected to provide Sprint customers increased speeds and capacity in densely populated cities." Sprint described its 1900 MHz spectrum as its "primary" LTE band, and its 800 MHz spectrum as ideal for penetrating buildings. Sprint said its 1900 MHz LTE network provides average download speeds of 6-8 Mbps and peaks of 25 Mbps. Clearwire CTO John Saw said last year that Clearwire's planned TD-LTE network in its 2.5 GHz spectrum would support theoretical peak speeds of up to 168 Mbps by 2014.

The first devices to access Sprint's 2.5 GHz LTE service will be the NETGEAR Zing Mobile Hotspot, the NETGEAR 341U USB stick and the MiFi 500 LTE by Novatel Wireless. The devices will go on sale July 19. It's reasonable to expect additional devices from Sprint in the coming months that can access its 2.5 GHz band, including smartphones.

Sprint last year inked a deal with Clearwire to offload its LTE traffic onto Clearwire's planned TD-LTE network in its 2.5 GHz spectrum. Clearwire said it's on track to have 5,000 TD-LTE sites on air by the end of December. Sprint closed on its acquisition of Clearwire last week, a transaction that was part of SoftBank's $21.6 billion purchase of 78 percent of Sprint.

A Sprint spokeswoman could not immediately comment on the status of Sprint's 2.5 GHz LTE network buildout, and also could not immediately discuss what kinds of download speeds Sprint expects to provide in its 2.5 GHz spectrum.

Sprint isn't the only carrier spreading LTE services across multiple bands. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) is expanding its LTE network from its 700 MHz spectrum and into its AWS spectrum. AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) too is building LTE services across 700 MHz and AWS spectrum, and has said it plans to expand LTE into its 2.3 GHz WCS spectrum.

For more:
- see these two Sprint releases

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