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Sprint has finally set into motion its aggressive plan to implement LTE 4G technology on its network, with 15 new cities gaining access to faster data speeds as of Sunday.

Sprint was initially the first of the big wireless carriers to roll out a true 4G service in the U.S. with the launch of its WiMAX 4G back in 2008. But as VentureBeat’s Sean Ludwig previously reported, troubles with WiMAX provider Clearwire stalled its launch in imporant markets, and all the while, No. 1 carrier Verizon and No. 2 carrier AT&T were launching their own 4G LTE offerings. Now Sprint is transitioning to LTE from WiMAX and launching its first markets.

The company is now offering its 4G service in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, and San Antonio as well as cities surrounding those areas. Sprint’s network using its  5-MHz channels is considerably slower than the peak speeds from Verizon and AT&T’s LTE networks, which use 10-MHz channels. However, many of the markets that Sprint is now entering don’t offer peak speeds from AT&T, making Sprint’s service far more competitive for the time being.

“This new network is performing extremely well, and customers should find it consistent, reliable, and really fast,” said Sprint senior VP of network Bob Azzi in a statement.

The push to a fast LTE network is crucial for the No. 3 carrier, because it also needs to make its network compatible with the latest smartphones on the market, many of which are optimized for the LTE technology.

Dan Hesse photo by Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat

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