Sprint on Monday announced a new batch of 70 markets receiving its LTE network. Sprint filled in a few big holes in its metro coverage map, including San Diego and St. Louis, but mostly these rollouts were in smaller cities like Starkville, Miss., and Muskegon, Mich.
Sprint’s LTE expansion has been a bit of a patchwork. Instead of focusing on the major cities first and then moving to smaller markets , Sprint has rolled out a combination of big and small cities. Also, when it brings 4G service live in a big city it often does so incrementally. For instance Sprint’s LTE network is live in Oakland and the East Bay, but it’s not in downtown San Francisco. You can find a complete list of the new markets here.
Sprint has updated its numbers for total population covered by LTE, though it has been promising to expand that footprint to 200 million people by the end of this year. Sprint may still be putting some more finishing touches on its network, or may just be keeping its coverage numbers under its hat to avoid comparisons to its three nationwide competitors, all of whom are well ahead of Sprint in their rollouts.
In October, Sprint started deploying its next-generation 4G service, called Spark, which actually ties three separate LTE networks together. Right now Spark isn’t fully formed, and it will roll out very slowly. It’s only live in five cities, and it will take Sprint three years to hit 100 markets. But as it goes live customers will get access to faster connections.