Hey Sprint LTE phone owners: Carrier now has a 4G network for some of you

Hey Sprint LTE phone owners: Carrier now has a 4G network for some of you

Sprint, which has been building up its LTE smartphone lineup this year, Monday finally turned on a 4G LTE network in 15 cities to support those devices.

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Sprint, which is entering the LTE network race well behind AT&T and Verizon, has initially launched 4G LTE in cities across Georgia, Texas, Missouri and Kansas. Sprint says it will add markets throughout the rest of 2012 and expects to have largely completed its 4G LTE build-out by the end of 2013 (along with enhanced 3G coverage) to address the wireless voice and data needs of 250 million people across the United States.

Once torn between supporting WiMax and LTE, Sprint has redoubled its LTE efforts and has been rolling out support for phones such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (pictured) and HTC EVO 4G LTE devices.

Sprint has some major catching up to do on the 4G LTE network rollout front, though the fact that LTE adoption by customers has been slow at least gives the carrier a bit of breathing room. LTE network demand is expected to surge later this year, assuming Apple rolls out an iPhone 5 with LTE support. AT&T last week added to its roster of communities supported by LTE, bringing its 4G footprint to an area reaching 80 million customers and roughly 50 markets. Verizon's 4G LTE network is available in more than 300 cities.

LTE, which stands for Long Term Evolution, is essentially a bridge from 3G technologies such as HSPA+ and EV-DO Rev. A to the 4G IMT-Advanced technologies that the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) says will deliver consistent speeds in the 100Mbps range. Verizon became the first major U.S. carrier to deploy LTE in late 2010 when it launched the technology in 38 major markets covering roughly one-third of the U.S. population. AT&T followed suit last summer when it launched LTE in Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston.

Here's the full list of new 4G LTE coverage areas for Sprint (and here's a map of all coverage areas to date):

" Atlanta " Athens, Ga. " Calhoun, Ga. " Carrollton, Ga. " Newnan, Ga. " Rome, Ga. " Dallas " Fort Worth, Texas " Granbury-Hood County, Texas " Houston " Huntsville, Texas " San Antonio, Texas " Waco, Texas " Kansas City, Mo.-Kan. " St. Joseph, Mo.

Article includes past reporting from Brad Reed.

Bob Brown tracks network research in his Alpha Doggs blog and Facebook page, as well on Twitter and Google +.

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