Sprint Bites Into LTE Phones Ahead of Network

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) has its first Long Term Evolution (LTE) handset ready to go, even before its first LTE markets are up and running.

The carrier announced Tuesday that the Viper from LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) will be available for pre-order on April 12th for $100 on a two-year contract. A Sprint spokeswoman says the device will be commercially available sometime this month. This is the first of 15 LTE devices Sprint has said it will launch this year. (See Sprint Unveils First 3 LTE Devices.)

The eco-friendly Viper features Android's Gingerbread operating system, Near-Field Communications (NFC) with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Wallet and mobile hotspot capabilities.

Why this matters
Sprint's LTE network will be much smaller and later than its peers, so a solid smartphone selection out the gate is one way it can compete. Another is its unlimited data plans, which it reiterated will remain an option for LTE. In reality, unlimited data will be its biggest – if not only – differentiator. Sprint's unlimited data plans start at $80 per month, the same price Verizon Wireless charges for 10 GB of data.

Sprint plans to bring LTE to Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio by mid-year 2012, meaning the Viper will be falling back to its CDMA network for some time. (See Sprint's First 10 LTE Markets Coming by Mid-Year.)

For more

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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