Sprint will launch 10 LTE markets by mid-year

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) will launch LTE service in 10 markets by mid-year using its new Network Vision multi-mode base stations, according to CEO Dan Hesse. 

sprint samsung galaxy nexus lte

An ad for a LTE-capable Samsung Galaxy Nexus for Sprint briefly appeared online.

Speaking at the Citi Global Entertainment, Media & Telecommunications Conference, Hesse said that four of those 10 markets will be Atlanta, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, Texas. He added that the company is confident it can deploy LTE as planned but added that sometimes big network transitions do have difficulties, alluding to Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZ) recent spate of LTE network outages.

Hesse added that Sprint can decide whether to deploy LTE faster or slower than anticipated depending on what it deems is optimal for its cash spend.

Earlier this year Sprint announced that it had deployed its first multi-mode base station in Branchburg, N.J., and its first LTE network cluster in Kankakee, Ill., about 50 miles south of Chicago.

Sprint's extensive Network Vision upgrade will deploy LTE using the company's 1900 MHz spectrum. The company plans to have 250 million to 277 million POPs covered with LTE by the end of 2013. Sprint also plans to launch at least 12 LTE devices this year.

Hesse added that Sprint has enough spectrum for its Network Vision plans through 2014. The company also envisions using Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) TDD-LTE buildout to augment its own FDD-LTE network, which means it will have enough spectrum through 2016 or 2017.

Last year Sprint agreed to pay Clearwire up to an additional $350 million in a series of pre-payments over a period of up to two years for LTE capacity if Clearwire achieves certain buildout targets and network specifications by June 2013.

Separately, an advertisement for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus being described as Sprint's first LTE phone appeared online briefly. The ad described the phone's familiar specs of a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED screen. However, the ad, which appeared alongside a CNET article, was quickly pulled. Sprint said in December it intends to launch its first LTE handsets sometime in the second half of 2012. Verizon has so far launched an LTE version of the Galaxy Nexus.

For more:
- see this webcast
- see this release
- see this Engadget post

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Sprint to launch LTE on 1900 MHz spectrum by mid-2012