Sprint Aiming to Launch LTE Network in Mid-2012, Full Buildout by End of 2013

Reuters reports that Sprint is significantly accelerating its transition from WiMAX to LTE for its 4G network technology, aiming to complete its LTE buildout by the end of 2013.

Sprint Nextel Corp plans to upgrade its network in time to launch high-speed wireless services by the middle of 2012 and expects to complete its upgrade by the end of 2013, a top executive for the company said on Friday.

Engadget notes that Sprint is planning to offer LTE coverage for 123 million Americans by the end of 2012, increasing to over 250 million by the time the buildout is complete a year later.

sprint iphone 4s banner
Reuters also notes that Sprint CEO Dan Hesse addressed the carrier's offering of the iPhone, for which pre-orders began just hours ago. With sources claiming that Sprint has committed to purchasing $20 billion worth of iPhones over the next four years, there have been concerns over the short-term hit to Sprint's profitability as it absorbs hundreds of dollars in subsidies for each unit until it earns the money back over time in service contracts.

But Hesse reports that iPhone is ultimately expected to be one of Sprint's most profitable handsets over time.

The company, which started taking pre-orders for the Apple Inc iPhone on Friday, said that while the device is more expensive than others, the iPhone will be "quite accretive" to profitability and cash flow over time.

Chief Executive Dan Hesse said he expects the popular device to be one of Sprint's most profitable, but he did not give specifics.

While the iPhone 4S does not support LTE, it seems that component availability could be lining up for an LTE iPhone by the third quarter of next year, by which time Verizon and AT&T will have fairly substantial LTE coverage and Sprint will be in the early stages of its rollout.

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Top Rated Comments

sigma8 Avatar
166 months ago
Is there really a big concern over the subsidy absorption? It's not like they have to buy all $20 billion worth of phones at once. Assuming they actually sell $20 billion worth of iPhones (which is probably what will happen), wouldn't they be in exactly the same boat if they DIDN'T have the agreement?

They'd still be paying a subsidy for each new customer, and making it up over time. AT&T and Verizon are each, today, doing this for each new customer on every iPhone. The only difference with Sprint is that it has committed towards a healthy minimum.

As long as they don't fall short of their goals, it should be business as usual.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
navindralr Avatar
166 months ago
I'm sure sprint had many of their analysts run the numbers on the profit margin, long term profits, etc. A lot of people are acting like Sprint blindly did this. I'm sure executives at Spring didn't just wake up one day, and were like, hey lets but 20 billion worth of iPhones. Obv done for a reason, and a very good reason...
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Tiger8 Avatar
166 months ago
I was just on the Apple site, and they said the iPhone will only work on the network to sign up for...


does that mean it will only work on Sprint no mater what, or would i be able to travel internationally like they said at the iPhone 4S event?

You can roam internationally rightaway, and by theory the phone has the hardware that can be unlocked to work on any GSM or CDMA carrier, since the chip supports both.

The Verizon iPhone 4 on the other hand is useless outside the states. No signal at all even if you wanted to

----------

if the chip dosen't come out until october, and they keep the fall launch schedule, it will not have that chip... Apple has to test networks, power usage and write drivers for it.

I think the chip is scheduled for Q2 2012, meaning that it might just make it in the iPhone 5/6 next October, NOvember the latest. I don't see Apple missing out on a HUGE opportunity like LTE next year, when 80% will be covered the the right chip is ready.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RalfTheDog Avatar
166 months ago
Looks like i'll be waiting a year for the LTE iPhone. The 4S looks nice as I would use the camera and Siri plus the A5 would be a nice bonus, but my upgrade is not till February at which point I would rather wait 6 more months then to get stuck on a two year contract.

Especially since at the time of iPhone "5" I will be free from my contract so I can go to whichever carrier has the best LTE network.
With the 4s camera, I think the 4s should come with a tripod mount.

:)
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
smithrh Avatar
166 months ago
What happened, Sprint? You were so big on WiMAX not long ago...

LTE happened. Sprint bet a lot early on WiMAX, but very few followed as they knew LTE was coming.

Basically, it turned out to be a bad bet.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Shaych Avatar
166 months ago
Sprint wanted the iPhone and that means they would need to go LTE to have a 4G iPhone one day. They just better sell all those iPhones they pre-purchased from Apple in order to pay for that new network. I think they will, but it seems to me that whereas the carriers used to dictate the handsets, now the handsets are dictating the carriers. We have Apple to thank for that (and Steve of course).

I think they have a pretty good chance of it. I mean... who knows how many are the cheaper units from Apple... and it's only 7.6 million units a year. I think the iPhone can sell that on their network easy...

Now they just have to survive long enough to start making money off these plans... and then maybe they will become profitable again. It could happen... and I hope it does... with unlimited plans.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)