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Sprint preps 15-city WiMAX roll-out

Racing ahead of LTE (for now)

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US telecom-services provider Sprint has announced that it will extend its WiMAX-based 4G wireless-broadband service to 10 American cities this year, with five more scheduled for 2010.

Today, Sprint offers 4G service in only one test city: Baltimore, Maryland. Although that service is rated at a peak of 12Mbps, the company readily admits that true download speeds are more average more in the 2-to-4Mbps range - which still beats the pants off most 3G services.

If all goes as planned, the cities to be added during 2009 include:

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Fort Worth, Texas
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Seattle, Washington

The five additional cities scheduled for a 2010 roll-out are:

  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Houston, Texas
  • New York City, New York
  • San Francisco, California
  • Washington, D.C.

The 2009 expansion will increase the population covered by Sprint by over 15 times. Add the cities planned for 2010 - which includes the Big Kahuna, New York City - and Sprint's WiMAX coverage will be available to over 22 million potential customers, an increase of 35 times its current availability.

But the rival 4G standard, LTE, isn't standing still. As we noted last month, Verizon is planning its first LTE roll-out for next year. LTE also has garnered significant support over the past year, while WiMAX has lost some of its luster.

It has always been known that WiMAX would be deployed before LTE. The question is whether it can parlay that head start into a global success. ®

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