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Racing to catch up with Verizon's 3G rollout, Sprint says it will have its EV-DO service live in 60 markets by next spring. More than half of these should be live this month.

Sprint says it's focussing on airports and financial districts, so don't expect it to work in your neighborhood anytime soon - unless you live next to a runway or a skyscraper.

Sprint announced two PC cards and two plans. One option allows 40MB of downloads for $40 a month, up to a maximum of $90; the other is an unlimited data plan for $80 a month - a penny more than Verizon.

Speeds of 400kbps to 700kbps will be achievable, the company claims. So it's real 3G at last, and considerably faster than the first generation W-CDMA 3G networks launched in Europe and Asia.

But if potential customers find themselves confused, then Sprint only has itself to blame. When it launched its 10-times slower 1XRTT network three years ago, Sprint insisted on calling it 3G, and plastering a 3G logo on every compatible phone. While it's true that it's an ITU-blessed 3G, speeds were closer to 2.5G, and even Sprint's own executives admitted it was all a bit silly. At the time we speculated how Sprint's marketing team would sell EV-DO, but 3.5G it isn't.

Sprint is spending $3bn on bringing its network up to true 3G speeds. More details of the areas covered can be found here. ®

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Sprint spends $3bn on 3G

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