Monday, June 25, 2012

Sprint updates 'Coverage Tool' to display non-existent LTE coverage

Sprint should be rolling out its first six LTE markets soon: the nation's No. 3 wireless carrier promised earlier that the rollout would begin by mid-year in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio. Given that, Sprint has updated its Coverage Tool to show both 4G LTE and 4G WiMax coverage.

Not only does the coverage map overlay LTE with WiMax coverage, it adds device-specific coverage maps, as well. That makes a lot of sense, as Sprint's devices don't support both WiMax and LTE at one time. They are either one or the other.

So, you might choose the HTC EVO 4G LTE and see LTE coverage in an area, or you might choose the HTC EVO 3D and see WiMax coverage. You might even pick the HTC Arrive and see neither, as that device supports Sprint's 3G (CDMA) only.

While it's a good idea, it's a better idea going forward. After all, if you look at current maps, you'll see no LTE coverage - anywhere. Sprint's LTE phones, therefore, are stuck on its relatively slow CDMA service.

Sprint made the decision to switch from WiMax to LTE last year. Of course, one company that it had backed last year when it announced the change, LightSquared, has since seen its fortunes turn to dust.

Sprint and T-Mobile are playing catch-up in their LTE efforts. Once those six pilot areas light up with LTE, though, at least Sprint's coverage maps will have some LTE "colors" showing.

Most importantly for Sprint's future: it needs to get this rollout begun and burgeoning before the release of the iPhone 5, which is expected to support LTE.

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