Facing stiff competition, Sprint takes on LTE network buildout

Sprint Nextel will roll out its own next-generation LTE network by the end of next year.

Sprint will roll out its own next-generation LTE network by the end of next year, our colleagues at CNET report.

The rollout is expected to cover 120 markets immediately and 260 by the end of 2013. Between 12 and 15 compatible devices will be launched next year. The network will operate in the 1900MHz part of the wireless spectrum.

Currently, the wireless carrier relies on Clearwire for 4G WiMax technology, which operates at 2500MHz. A new network is a bold, expensive move, but perhaps appearing to Sprint's executives as necessary as Verizon and AT&T distance themselves from it and T-Mobile. (T-Mobile, of course, will be acquired by AT&T pending regulator approval.)

Roger Cheng reports that some mobile broadband devices will be able to straddle the two 4G networks but phones will not, ensuring that the transition is mostly a clean break. Sprint's first LTE device is expected next summer.

But forking devices with technology remains a concern. Chief executive Dan Hesse said during an investors' meeting this morning that the company is working with Samsung, Alcatel Lucent and Ericsson to turn its three existing networks into one through the use of multi-mode equipment that allows cell towers to support all frequencies.