Sprint expands 4G network; planning first 4G phone

Sprint is likely to offer the first Android phone to run on a 4G data network.

Sprint 3G/4G USB Modem U300 Sprint Nextel

Sprint made history in September 2008 when it became the first major US carrier to launch a 4G WiMax network in Baltimore. This week it expanded its coverage to three more cities and announced plans to launch 17 additional new markets in 2009.

  • Abilene, Texas
  • Amarillo, Texas
  • Austin, Texas
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Bellingham, Wash.
  • Charlotte, N.C.
  • Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Greensboro, N.C.
  • Killeen-Temple, Texas
  • Lubbock, Texas
  • Maui, Hawaii
  • Midland-Odessa, Texas
  • Raleigh, N.C.
  • Salem, Ore.
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Waco, Texas
  • Wichita Falls, Texas

Sprint promises that its 4G network, which the carrier built in partnership with Clearwire, will deliver peak downlink speeds of more than 10Mbps and average downlink speeds of 3Mbps to 6Mbps. This should be three to five times faster than the carrier's current 3G EV-DO network.

Customers can purchase several 4G USB modems and a mobile broadband router. Unlimited 4G data plans go for $69.99, a $10 premium over comparable 3G plans. Alternatively, you could use the Samsung Mondi even if it's not sold by Sprint.

Sprint hasn't announced plans for 4G phones, but Sprint is rumored to be testing such handset from Samsung. Both companies are members of the Open Handset Alliance which is backing Google's Android mobile operating system.

Even though Sprint has confirmed an Android phone for 2009, I would be surprised to see a 4G handset. There's no doubt Android that would be a perfect match for this high-speed network, but I don't think we will see a 4G handset until 2010. On the other hand, Sprint could surprise us this holiday season. It will have 20 markets getting its new high-speed network, and a 4G phone would be the perfect flagship device to promote it.

About the author

    Taylor Wimberly became obsessed with cell phones working as a Sprint reseller as a teenager. When he's not writing about the newest handsets on the market, you can find him on the beach working the BBQ pit. Taylor also blogs about the Android community with Android and Me. Taylor is a member of the CNET Blog Network, and is not an employee of CNET. E-mail Taylor.

     

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