Sprint Announces 3G Rollout Plans

Wireless operator says its service will be available in 34 business districts and airports in July and will be broadly available in 60 metro areas by early next year.
Sprint Thursday announced the roll-out schedule for its 3G 1xEV-DO service, saying it will launch service in 34 markets in July and will cover 60 metropolitan areas in the U.S. by early next year.

The roll-out has been long discussed by Sprint in general terms and the company has already started selling PC Card modems for the service. However, Thursday's announcement is the first official announcement from the company about a specific timetable.

The first roll-out in July will be in airports and specifically in business districts of larger metropolitan areas, the company said in a statement. It said the service will be broadly available in 14 metropolitan areas by the end of the third quarter and will be available broadly in 36 metropolitan markets by the end of the year, expanding to 60 markets early next year.

The company did not specify the cities in which the service would be launched.

The company said that, initially, the service will work only with PC Card modems in devices such as laptops. However, it said it will have handsets available that support the service in the fourth quarter of this year.

Sprint is the second U.S. carrier to offer 1xEV-DO service -- Verizon Wireless has already rolled out the service in about 50 markets and is continuing its rollout in other markets. The technology provides typical speeds of between 300 Kbps and 500 Kbps.

The service will cost $80 per month for unlimited usage, although less expensive by-the-byte plans also will be available, the company said. That's the same price Verizon Wireless charges for unlimited service.. In addition to the monthly fee, users also must buy the compatible PC Card.

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