Sprint launches LTE in clusters; promises 6-8 Mbps speeds

As promised Sprint(s s) launched its new LTE network this weekend, but it went beyond the five cities it designated earlier this month. In addition to turning up its 4G service in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio, Sprint went live in 10 other cities and communities in the surrounding areas of those metro markets.

Here is a list of the additional launch markets:

  • Atlanta: Athens, Calhoun, Carrolton, Newnan and Rome; Ga.
  • Dallas: Fort Worth, Granbury, and Waco, Texas
  • Houston: Huntsville, Texas
  • Kansas City: St. Joseph, Mo.

San Antonio doesn’t get an LTE satellite, at least not yet, and there’s still no news on Baltimore, which Sprint originally targeted for this weekend’s launch but dropped at the last minute. The carrier has released detailed coverage maps on its website.

Sprint’s LTE coverage in Kansas City is shown in orange

Sprint is charging the exact same prices for LTE data plans as it is for 3G and WiMAX data, and it remains the only major U.S. operator to offer unlimited plans. It currently has four smartphones that support LTE: the HTC EVO 4G LTE, the LG Viper 4G LTE, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and the Samsung Galaxy S III. It also offers a tri-mode LTE/WiMAX/CDMA modem from Sierra Wireless(s swir).

Sprint released a video Sunday detailing the capabilities of the new network and devices. But in the fine print of the video’s captions, ExtremeTech spotted what Sprint is promising as its average LTE speeds: 6-8 Mbps download and 2-3 Mbps upload. The top end of that range is roughly half of the 5-12 Mbps AT&T(s t) and Verizon Wireless(s vz)(s vod) are advertising, but this is pretty much what we expected. Sprint is only using 10 MHz of spectrum for its initial LTE network, compared to 20 MHz Verizon and AT&T are using in most of their markets. Still if Sprint can consistently deliver 6 Mbps or more to a smartphone, its customers will have little to complain about.