Who else wants a piece of the LTE pie? The Now Network does! Sprint CEO Dan Hesse just announced the markets that will kick off the company's LTE rollout, and, interestingly enough, they chose four of the same cities as AT&T did for its LTE-startup (cue conspiracy theories in 3... 2... 1...) - Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, TX; along with Atlanta, GA.

Some users are speculating that this move is so Sprint can directly compete with AT&T, while others are suggesting that it's more technical than that and is actually about tower placements, locations, policies, etc.

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The Now Network plans to take the wraps off of its LTE network in the aforementioned cities in mid-2012, but, as always, a number of things could cause a delay. Either way, soon enough some people are going to have three different LTE networks to choose from.

Update x2: For anyone worried about Sprint getting rid of its unlimited data after its LTE network is in full-effect, fret not. CEO Dan Hesse stated that "there were no plans to move to tiered data-pricing plans such as those of AT&T and Verizon Wireless."

Update: Here's the PR.

SAN FRANCISCO (BUSINESS WIRE), January 05, 2012 - Sprint (NYSE: S) CEO Dan Hesse announced today at the annual Citigroup Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications Conference that customers in Dallas, Atlanta, Houston and San Antonio are expected to be among the first to benefit from 4G LTE and improved 3G coverage in the first half of 2012.

The launch of these metropolitan areas marks the next step in the company’s overall network strategy, also known as Network Vision. Sprint customers can expect to enjoy ultra-fast data speeds, improved 3G voice and data quality, and stronger in-building signal penetration providing a more reliable wireless experience. Whether a Sprint customer is on a smartphone streaming video, browsing the Web with a mobile hotspot, or making a voice call to someone across the country, everyone1 in the upgraded areas is expected to benefit from the advanced 3G/4G LTE network.

“Within the first half of 2012, Sprint customers should experience first-hand the wide-reaching improvements we have made in terms of boosting voice and data quality,” said Bob Azzi, senior vice president – Network, Sprint. “With advanced smartphones and sophisticated wireless modems, our customers are using more and more mobile data, and one of our top priorities is to provide the best technology possible to improve our customers’ experience.”

Sprint’s Network Vision platform involves the deployment of multimode base stations across many of Sprint’s cell sites throughout the country. As base stations are deployed, customers will notice immediate improvements in voice quality, signal density and data speeds. The first completed deployment of a multimode base station was in Branchburg, N.J., in December 2011. As additional areas receive 3G enhancements and 4G LTE service, announcements will be made.

Another component of Sprint’s network strategy has been the deployment of Sprint® Direct Connect® on the CDMA network. Sprint’s legacy in push-to-talk leadership continues with new CDMA devices that launched in September, 2011. More CDMA push-to-talk devices will be announced in the coming months.

Sprint has been an innovator with 4G since first launching the technology in 2008. Sprint has launched more than 25 4G-enabled smartphones, USB connection cards, notebook/netbook products, mobile hotspots and routers. Sprint offers a proven, reliable 4G experience for millions of customers compared to other national wireless carriers. Additionally, Sprint is a leader in value, with Sprint Everything plans with Any Mobile, AnytimeSM, including unlimited data, texting and calling to and from any mobile phone in America while on the Sprint network. With Sprint’s unlimited data plans, customers don’t have to worry about throttling or data overage charges on their monthly bill as they might with tiered data plans from other carriers.

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