Summary:

Sprint has come full circle on 4G. Four years ago, the country’s first 4G service, Xohm, went live in Baltimore using the technology Sprint championed at the time WiAMX. On Wednesday, Sprint turned up a new 4G network, using WiMAX’s competitor LTE, in the same city.

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Sprint’s LTE rollout isn’t exactly barreling ahead, but on Wednesday it did launch LTE in its sixth major market: Baltimore, a city with a certain degree of symbolism. Three years and 11 months ago, Sprint launched the country’s first commercial mobile WiMAX service, Xohm, in Baltimore, setting off the 4G race.

LTE obviously won that race, and by returning to Baltimore with WiMAX’s competing technology Sprint is pretty much acknowledging it bet on the wrong the horse. Sprint is still offering WiMAX services through its partner Clearwire (which took over Sprint’s WiMAX assets in 2008), but only through its prepaid brands Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile. The carrier’s 4G future is now clearly on the path of LTE, and we’ll talk more about that with Sprint’s CTO Stephen Bye at our Mobilize 2012 conference next month in San Francisco.

In addition to Baltimore, Sprint also expanded the LTE network to Gainesville, Fla. Ga.; Manhattan-Junction City, Kan.; and Sedalia, Mo.; following its clustering strategy. Sprint LTE is now in six big metro markets — Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio – but it’s also turned up service in a dozen smaller cities and towns in the regions surrounding those big markets.

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