During a roundtable discussion at Mobile World Congress, Sprint's senior vice president of networks, Bob Azzi, said that the carrier will watch how many of its customers migrate from EV-DO to mobile WiMAX over the next 4 to 6 months and then evaluate the best way to use its existing spectrum before it decides whether or not to deploy LTE.
We've known for some time that Sprint and Clearwire had plans to try out a form of LTE and examine a variety of potential future technology combinations. According to GigaOm, switching from mobile WiMAX to LTE involves a card swap as opposed to reconfiguring all the gear at the base stations or its tower network. Although that may be an over simplified way of looking at the transition, the reality is that WiMAX is not getting much support from carriers and equipment makers across the globe, making it very unlikely to become a network standard capable of rivaling LTE.
Chief Executive Dan Hesse said that the company would disclose its plans regarding LTE versus its WiMAX commitment about midyear, not in terms of implementation but in terms of disclosing what their plans are with respect to 4G. Meanwhile, AT&T and Verizon are moving full ahead with LTE, locking in partners to take advantage of faster data speeds. The latter has already launched their next generation network and plans on doing voice over LTE in 2012.