Sprint's 4G LTE Testing Tease

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) users with compatible 4G smartphones are likely to see Long Term Evolution (LTE) signals in cities around the U.S. in coming months, but that won't always mean faster data service is round the corner.

Bloggers and tech sites have been getting in a lather about seeing Sprint's LTE signals in Silicon Valley early this month. The humorously named Android Police first spotted the LTE radio waves around Palo Alto on Aug. 6.

There are, in fact, other cities that are getting hints of Sprint's Network Vision upgrades for 3G and 4G. The upgrades are often initially indicated by dropped calls and delayed texts on CDMA as Sprint tunes up the new 3G gear. Then 4G signals can sometimes be seen as the operator's engineers get the LTE in order.

For instance, postings on the Sprint Community Forum indicate that LTE gear is now installed in Boston and Los Angeles towers but not yet up for service.

Some Sprint users appear to be eagerly awaiting LTE services in their towns. There is even the Sprint 4G Rollout Updates blog and forum, which attempts to unofficially track the Network Vision deployment across the U.S.

As Sprint told LR Mobile recently, however, the operator has plenty of potential sites that could go live next. There can be months between testing and service, particularly in large cities.

The operator is aiming for useable street-level signals when it goes live in an LTE city. The plan is go back and fill in the holes, covering its 3G footprint by the end of 2013.

The operator intends to have 19 markets live by Sept. 6:

View Sprint 4G LTE Markets in a larger map

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— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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