Sprint has confirmed earlier reports that it will launch its own LTE-based 4G network beginning sometime in 2012. News.com reports that Sprint announced these plans at a press event in New York City today. Sprint said that it will sell 15 devices, including smartphones and tablets, that will support the new LTE network. It hopes to have this new network expand to cover 120 million people in the US by the end of 2012 and 250 million people by the end of 2013.
Sprint was the first of the major wireless phone carriers to launch a 4G network in 2008 when it launched its WiMax-based network. That venture was co-funded by Clearwire. However, Clearwire later ran into financial difficulties which caused Sprint to stop adding WiMax-based locations in the US. WiMax is currently supported by Sprint in 71 US cities and metro areas. In today's press conference, Sprint said it would continue to sell devices that support WiMax through the end of 2012. However, company officials would not comment on plans for the WiMax network beyond 2012.
Verizon Wireless has been highly aggressive in the expansion of its own LTE-based network. It started in late 2010 and now Verizon's 4G network covers 164 US cities. AT&T has launched its own LTE-based network in five US cities earlier this year and plans to expand it to 15 cities by the end of 2011. Sprint's stock price went up in stock trading today after today's announcement but then went down by a whopping 26 percent at one point after company execs said it might need to raise some additional money. Sprint's stock price is currently down around 6 percent as of the time of this news post.