Sprint will get an early Christmas gift from its long-time handset supplier LG Electronics. When the new LG G2 emerges on Sprint’s network later this year, it will have a bunch of extra components under its faceplate, all designed for Sprint’s unique and multifaceted LTE network configuration.
Unless another smartphone emerges to steal LG’s thunder (Samsung has two very good candidates), the G2 will be the first handset that spans all three of Sprint’s LTE networks in the 800 MHz, 1900 MHz and 2.5 GHz bands. To understand why that’s significant, you have to know that no other operator in the country is using any of those bands for LTE, and in the case of 800 MHz (its former iDEN network spectrum), Sprint stands alone in the world.
To top it all off, Sprint is deploying two different LTE technologies over those disparate bands: the frequency division-LTE flavor used by all other U.S. carriers and time division-LTE, a technology it shares in common with its new corporate parent SoftBank and several other Asian and Middle Eastern operators.
The point is LG had to do an awful lot of customization to pack all of those frequencies and that unique blend of CDMA and LTE technologies into one device. And LG isn’t stopping there. It’s adding GSM/EDGE/HSPA support to Sprint’s variant. That means the phone will also work on other North American 2G and 3G networks.
This should be a cause for celebration at Sprint, right? Well, it’s staying mum for now. Sprint has confirmed that the G2 will be available to its customers later this year, but it wouldn’t give any further details about which networks it taps.
The reason we know the G2 will span all of Sprint’s frequencies and technologies is because LG cleared the device through the Federal Communication Commission in July. The device bears the product label L980, and while there was some debate among the gadget blogs over whether it was just a Sprint variant of the Optimus G Pro, LG basically confirmed it would be the G2 today by releasing the device’s specs. Its dimensions and other component match up perfectly to the mysterious Sprint phone.
Sprint still hasn’t launched LTE commercially on anything other than its PCS 1900 MHz airwaves, but it has announced plans to turn on its other two networks this year. Network testers over at S4GRU have been tracking live TD-LTE signals going up all over the country.
Sprint has already begun seeding its customer base with tri-mode mobile hotspots and modems, though it has yet to reveal its first cross-network handset. But it’s starting to look like Sprint will have no trouble securing high-profile smartphones for its funky network configuration. The G2 is LG’s newest flagship phone, and Samsung is already building dual-mode TD/FD-LTE variants of the Galaxy S 4 and S 4 mini.