Sprint LTE trudges ahead to San Francisco, 21 other markets

The carrier, well off the pace set by Verizon and AT&T, says the deployment will happen "in the coming months."

The Evo 4G LTE is just one of the Sprint phones that can't access LTE in many big cities.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Sprint Nextel is slowly making some progress on the 4G LTE front.

The carrier, which lags behind Verizon Wireless and AT&T with its LTE network, said today that it would expand into an additional 22 markets -- including San Francisco -- "in the coming months." This follows the company's commitment last month to roll out the service in 100 cities, although it similarly didn't give a specific time frame.

The release of the LTE-enabled iPhone 5 has put a spotlight on just how weak its 4G coverage is relative to its two larger competitors. The company started later than its rivals, and has also been juggling a full overhaul of its network to modernize the equipment. As a result, many customers who buy Sprint 4G LTE smartphones must wait it out until the service comes to their locales. That includes bigger cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

"We're committed to providing improved 3G and 4G LTE as quickly as possible, and keeping our customers informed as to when and where they can experience the new network's superior performance and speed," said Bob Azzi, senior vice president of network operations for Sprint.

In contrast, Verizon, which began its deployment before the other major carriers, will surpass 400 marketscovered with its 4G LTE market. In contrast, Sprint has covered 24 markets so far.

Here's the list of cities that Sprint announced today:

San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif., Cape Coral-Ft Meyers, Fla., Dyersburg-Union City-Martin, Tenn., Emporia, Kan., Fort Wayne, Ind., Greenwood, Miss., Joplin, Mo., Kokomo, Ind., Lafayette/West Lafayette, Ind., Lexington Park, Md., Marion, Ind., Napa, Calif., Naples-Marco Island, Fla., Ottawa-Streator, Ill., Punta Gorda, Fla., Santa Rosa-Petaluma, Calif., Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla., Sebring, Fla., South Bend-Mishawaka, Ind., Terre Haute, Ind., Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif., Warsaw, Ind.