Sprint’s(s s) LTE rollout may be behind those of its nationwide competitors, but it appears to be getting close to completion. Its 4G network now covers 225 million people, and it plans to hit the 250 million mark by mid-year. On Monday it kicked off a program that brings its 4G coverage to small markets and rural areas it never planned to target with 4G service.
Sprint announced roaming agreements with 12 regional and rural carriers as part of a LTE network sharing agreement with the Competitive Carrier Association and the NetAmerica Alliance. The idea is to create a common device portfolio and nationwide LTE footprint that Sprint and all its regional partners can share in.
The 12 partners are SouthernLINC Wireless, nTelos, C Spire Wireless, Nex-Tech Wireless Flat Wireless, MobileNation, Inland Cellular, Illinois Valley Cellular, Carolina West Wireless, James Valley Telecommunications, VTel Wireless and Phoenix Wireless. Combined, those 12 carriers cover 34 million people in 23 states.
While there is likely some overlap between Sprint’s own network coverage and that of its new partners, many of these carriers are in small towns outside of Sprint’s more city-focused coverage footprint. In trade, those carriers will be able to offer national LTE coverage by letting their customers onto Sprint’s network. In addition, these carriers will have the option of using Sprint’s spectrum to fill out their LTE capacity in areas where Sprint isn’t planning to build its own networks.