Sprint Sets LTE Launch Date

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) has finally revealed that its first five 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) cities will go live on July 15, with a majority of the initial markets being in Texas.

The third-largest U.S. mobile operator said Wednesday that it will launch initial LTE service in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio this July. Baltimore is the only market that Sprint named as an initial market without an assigned launch date.

A July launch date was widely rumored for the planned "mid-year" launch of Sprint's latest -- and fastest -- mobile network technology. The operator hopes to cover up to 120 million people with its updated 4G network by year's end.

The operator already has several devices that support the new technology available. (See Sprint LTE Devices Arrive Before Network.) Why this matters
Sprint is far behind larger rivals AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless with LTE launches. Big Red currently has 304 markets up and running; Ma Bell has LTE service up in 41 towns and cities.

Sprint, meanwhile, isn't planning to focus on its existing WiMax network, now preferring to push that network through its Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA Inc. (NYSE: VM) pay-as-you-go operations. The future of the Sprint brand is now wrapped up in the complex, but necessary, "Network Vision" 3G and 4G upgrades and a spreading LTE footprint.

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— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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