Sprint launches Rev. A broadband network

Sprint launched its first deployment of EV-DO Rev. A today in San Diego, with 20 more markets to launch by year-end. The carrier says the upgraded network will "ultimately" allow subscribers in San Diego to utilize richer applications and services like high-speed video telephony, music on demand, video messaging and large file uploads. The 21 markets will cover 40 million people, according to the carrier. While current EV-DO networks offer speeds of 50-70 kbps, Sprint claims the Rev. A network will offer speeds of 300-400 kbps. Average download speeds will also increase to 450-800 kbps, up from 400-700 kbps. The carrier says its entire Power Vision network will be upgraded to Rev. A by this time next year. Rev. A subscribers will need to purchase a wireless data card from Novatel, Sierra or Pantech. The data plans will range from $40 a month for 40 MB to $80 a month for unlimited data usage.

So Sprint beat Verizon out of the gate with Rev. A as expected, and unlike its rivals, Sprint is pushing video streaming and similar bandwidth intensive activities for its heavy data users. Should be interesting to see if data becomes a clear differentiator for the carrier as it has struggled in recent months to keep up with the top two carriers. Rev. A will start the data as differentiator war, but maybe WiMAX will finish it?

For more on this:
- Check out the press release