Since Sprint's agreement with LTE wholesaler LightSquared was signed in July, there have been rumblings about just when the carrier would launch an LTE network of its own. CNET reported Tuesday that the time is nearly at hand - Sprint is poised to launch their LTE network beginning in "early 2012."

According to CNET, Sprint hopes to launch this service by the beginning of Q2 2012, and the costs associated with the rollout have already been accounted for, meaning no additional capital investment will be necessary.

Sprint's move to LTE is likely due to the fact that Wimax's initial edge over the competition is quickly fading, thanks in large part to the presence of Verizon Wireless' faster LTE network which has enjoyed a much wider deployment.

LTE will not only help Sprint stay competitive as the third largest carrier in the U.S., but - as CNET speculates - will even the data consumption load between 3G and 4G. Conveniently, Sprint plans to use its G-block spectrum, gained in the acquisition of Nextel. This is convenient because Sprint plans to shut down the Nextel network (and iDEN along with it) by 2013.

Despite the fact that Sprint will essentially have to "start over" in deploying a new LTE network, it will, in the end, benefit both the carrier and its consumers by offering a new competitive edge and superior data speeds over WiMax.

Source: CNET