Why you’ll likely see Sprint LTE phones sooner than later

Any remaining Sprint(s s) customers holding out hope for new WiMAX smartphones can officially consider such hopes dashed. On Thursday, Fierce Wireless heard Sprint’s SVP of networks, Bob Azzi, confirm that no additional WiMAX phones will be launched. With Sprint’s move to LTE for mobile broadband, this may not surprise, but earlier in the year, the operator said it would offer new WiMAX devices throughout 2012.
This suggests that Sprint’s migration from WiMAX to LTE is quickly progressing. In order to make the transition, Sprint is first using 1900 MHz spectrum for LTE and later plans to repurpose the 800 MHz band currently used for iDEN. These types of moves typically don’t happen quickly because existing devices already use this spectrum.
Azzi noted the aggressive effort, saying that field integration testing was nearly completed and showing more benefits than expected. According to FW, Azzi said the overall network effort should yield a 50 percent savings in the costs to deliver a gigabyte of data or a minute of voice. Hopefully, such savings is passed along in the form of less expensive LTE plans.
This news may also lend credence to recent rumors that Sprint will launch the Samsung Galaxy Nexus LTE handset on April 15. Of course, any LTE phones will be limited to using Sprint’s 3G network until the carrier starts lighting up its LTE coverage areas, expected by mid-2012. That’s not a bad thing. Even without a network yet, buyers of LTE phones know their device will have a future. Sadly, I never felt that way about the WiMAX devices that used the 2.5 GHz band, even after attending Sprint’s WiMAX launch in 2008.