Sprint’s LTE rollout finally makes its way to New York (parts, at least)

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New Yorkers wondering when Sprint’s LTE machine will finally find its way to the Big Apple can stop wondering – at least those New Yorkers living or working in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Sprint said on Wednesday that it is turning on its new 4G network in those two boroughs on July 30.

The official New York launch is hardly a surprise given customers with LTE phones have been picking up random signals in the city, but officially bringing NYC online will be a major milestone in the carrier’s LTE rollout. New York is not only the most populated city in the U.S., but it is one of the most difficult in which to build a mobile network due to its extreme population density and strict regulations on where and how cell sites can be placed.

Sprint logo signAs for Queens, Staten Island and Manhattan, Sprint said the LTE network is already live in parts of those boroughs, but it would officially launch in those ares in the coming months. Sprint also revealed it is joining AT&T and T-Mobile in setting up shop in NYC’s subway system as part of Transit Wireless’s project to flood the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s underground stations with cellular signals.

Sprint started its LTE rollout last summer, and it’s fair to say it now lags all of its major competitors in providing LTE access to its customers. Both Verizon Wireless and AT&T had big head starts on Sprint, but even T-Mobile has managed to leapfrog its larger competitor. In just four months, T-Mobile brought its LTE coverage from zero to 116 cities covering 157 million people.

Sprint’s last official market count was 110 (New York will make it 111), and while T-Mobile has targeted mainly larger cities, Sprint’s initial rollout targeted many smaller cities and bypassed many key metropolitan cities like NYC, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Sprint has said it plans to fill those big holes this summer, starting with New York.

This LTE network also isn’t the only one Sprint is building. Since it acquired Clearwire as part of its three-way day with SoftBank, Sprint has taken over the WiMAX’s operator’s time-division LTE project, which could add enormous amounts of capacity to its networks in big cities. The Sprint watchers at S4GRU have already spotted the new TD-LTE transmissions in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Miami, New York City, Tampa and Chicago. And Sprint has begun seeding its customer base with tri-band devices modems that will tap into both LTE networks.

We’re waiting to see just how extensive and expansive this TD-LTE rollout will be. Clearwire’s initial goal was rather conservative: providing additional capacity in high-trafficked areas in big cities. But now that Sprint has taken over the ailing carrier, it could use its spectrum to build one of the single most powerful 4G networks in the country.

Sprint store photo courtesy of Shutterstock user Susan Law Cain

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