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Sprint LTE pops up in San Francisco Bay Area ahead of schedule

Subscribers in the Bay Area report getting LTE connections via Sprint ahead of the reported rollout, according to the Android Police.

Sprint customers in parts of the San Francisco Bay Area seem to already be getting a taste of the carrier's LTE network.

The company has been hard at work doling out LTE access to certain parts of the country. The launch has so far focused mostly on smaller markets rather than larger cities, but a rumored rollout in the San Francisco Bay Area appears to be running ahead of schedule.

Sprint customers in the Bay area have been tipping off the Android Police enthusiast site about getting 4G LTE connections on their devices. One user around the Palo Alto and Mountain View areas tracked speeds of more than 13Mbps on the downstream and 8Mbps on the upstream. Other Sprint users in Sunnyvale and Cupertino also confirmed LTE connectivity to Android Police.

No word on whether this is the start of an official rollout or just a test phase. Either way, Sprint 4G phone owners in the Bay Area may want to see what kind of signal they can get at this point.

CNET is seeking confirmation from its San Francisco staff and will update the story when we receive more information.

A Sprint spokeswoman told CNET that the company "has not announced any additional markets at this time, but we expect to launch several more markets in 2012 and we'll announce each one shortly before launch."

Sprint was the first U.S. carrier to offer a 4G network, but that was through WiMax, a technology that has virtually lost the standards war to LTE. Since the company was late to the LTE party, it's far behind its U.S. rivals at ramping up a 4G LTE network. Sprint expects to complete its LTE deployment toward the end of next year.

Sprint customers can keep tabs on the rollout by checking the carrier's network page.