Sprint LTE rollout begins in earnest

Sprint has just launched Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G service for the first time, though it has about two years before the rollout will be complete.

Nevertheless, this step is an important one both for Sprint as it steps up its 4G efforts, and for the LTE standard in becoming the universally accepted best option for 4G service.

The first Sprint LTE cluster was activated in Kanakakee, Illinois, a largely unpopulated town about 60 miles from Chicago.

Though it’s not widespread, it does show that Sprint is on schedule to deliver LTE-powered products by the middle of 2012.

In the same breath, the carrier also announced that its 3G network has been upgraded across the country, in response to the ridiculously heavy demand that has been pushed on it since the launch of the iPhone 4S.

Sprint was the first to the 4G game when it launched its Wimax network a couple years ago. It was a huge improvement over the existing 3G infrastructures, but over time it became less relevant.

Sprint’s ‘4G’ network was rendered almost obsolete when Verizon stepped in as the first player in the LTE market. So although Verizon was the last one to launch a 4G campaign, because it waited it was able to leapfrog ahead everyone else and offer the fastest network available.

Now, the competitors are playing catch-up. AT&T is also working on rolling out an LTE network, and is slightly ahead of Sprint.

Sprint says it will have its LTE rollout finished throughout the US by the end of 2013.