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Summary:

Sprint is launching its new LTE network footprint from the outside in. Rather than start with the big cities and then move to smaller markets, Sprint is starting in small cities and suburbs and building up to the big metro launches.

Sprint LTE logo

Sprint’s rather strange rollout of its new LTE network continues. On Monday, it announced the new 4G network would be available in several of Chicago’s suburbs but not in the city limits of Chicago itself. Sprint also launched the mobile broadband service in New Bedford and Fall River, Mass.; McPherson and Hutchinson, Kan.; and Wichita Falls, Texas.

While most carriers start their new network rollouts in the big cities and then expand outwards, Sprint has launched its LTE network in far more small markets than it has in big metro areas. In fact, Sprint has only gone live in six major cities: Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio in Texas and Kansas City, Atlanta and Baltimore. The rest of its two dozen or so launches have all been in small cities or suburbs.

A lot of activity is going on in the background though. Sprint has said it will have LTE live in 115 markets in the coming months – and not just in small towns and bedroom communities. Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Memphis, Tenn.; Miami; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; New York; Philadelphia; and Washington, D.C. are all on the list.

What we’re likely seeing in Chicago is the first stage of a more aggressive metropolitan area rollout. While many of these outlying suburban communities can be covered with a handful of cellsites, building a dense network in downtown Chicago requires a lot more work. Instead of waiting until every tower is ready to launch, Sprint is probably just turning up individual markets as soon as they’re ready – regardless of their size.

It will be interesting to see if much of Chicago proper’s network isn’t already live. So if you have a Sprint LTE phone or modem and live within the confines of the Windy City, we’d love to hear if you’re seeing any 4G signals. Let us know in the comments below.

  1. I have a Sprint GS3 phone and I see 4G signal consistently at the Cumberland Metra train station (NE Des Plaines). That 4G signal disappears half-way through Des Plaines and is absent for the rest of my train ride to downtown Chicago.

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  2. I’m getting occasional 4G signal in Lakeview and even in Gold Coast.

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  3. mariano montes Monday, October 22, 2012

    i am in the chicago area and havent seen any 4g or 4g lte yet !! to have sprint turn on the towers in the suburbs first dont make sense at all . chicago is a major big city and to have us wait while all these little suburbs go on and chicago stays off is just absured !! i have the 4g lte and i been using as a paper weight for 3 months . really cant take it anymore !!!

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    1. did you reboot your phone in CDMA/LTE mode?

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  4. I have sprint and i live in chicago. The lte in the inner city is still spotty and is being activated in more areas as time goes on. However in the suburbs there are more locations to connect to lte. I cant complain though it is unlimited.

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  5. I rebooted my Galaxy SIII in 4G LTE mode (you have to actually do that) and it has been getting a 4G signal in many areas on the northside including Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and parts of uptown as well as some of the closer northern suburbs. It’s fast and has been pretty consistent and stable enough that i can use my phone as a hotspot for my samsung note 10.1. After 3 months of being limited to 3G it’s been much anticipated.

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  6. no 4g in hyde park, 4g in naperville (getting 40 mbps down there!)

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  7. Bill Hinostroza Monday, October 22, 2012

    There are snippets of 4g around the ravenswood area but you mostly won’t have any connection for a long period of time because they are working on it but it’s good to see some progress!

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  8. I have an EVO 4G LTE and saw LTE for the first time yesterday along the border of River Forest and Oak Park (Harlem Ave around Lake St.). Blazing fast! Unfortunately it did not stay around as I traveled East into Oak Park where I live.

    I have experienced horrendous 3G reception on this phone in the city (worse than a dial-up modem) and often times do not have any data signal at all at Fairbanks & Illinois. Really terrible. So I’m anxiously waiting to see when 4G arrives in the city.

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  9. LTE signal is present in aurora/naperville!

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  10. Scott Winterroth Monday, October 22, 2012

    Sprint’s LTE is available in Lincoln Square and parts of Wrigleyville. I don’t get it inside of my house but on the streets.

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