There was a time when WiMAX was Sprint’s preferred flavor of 4G connectivity, and the big yellow carrier spread that service to over 70 markets across the country. However, Sprint announced in late 2011 that it would be switching over to LTE for its 4G needs, and then in early 2012 it said that it wouldn’t be releasing any more devices for its old WiMAX service. Now it appears that Sprint is finally ready to completely rid itself of its WiMAX roots.
Sprint has revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it plans to shut down its WiMAX service by the end of 2015. The carrier explains that when it acquired Clearwire, the company was in the process of deploying LTE service on 5,000 of its 17,000 WiMAX cell sites. That deployment is now complete, and Sprint intends to roll LTE out to another 5,000 of those sites. Additionally, Sprint says that its found about 6,000 redundant sites that it plans to decommission.
The news of Sprint’s WiMAX shutdown plans don’t come as much of a surprise. Sprint updated its contract terms last year to lay out the options that WiMAX customers would have when it decided to shut down the service, which included leaving Sprint without an ETF and transitioning to a new LTE-capable device. As Sprint continues to move away from its WiMAX service and devices and its customers upgrade to newer hardware, it’s no surprise to learn that Sprint wants to kill off its WiMAX network so that it can be used for other service.
Sprint is currently in the process of rolling out its LTE service, which it recently activated in 20 new U.S. markets. The yellow operator is also expanding its Sprint Spark footprint. The Sprint Spark technology utilizes Sprint’s three different LTE bands — 800MHz, 1.9GHz and 2.5GHz — to give compatible devices improved LTE service and speeds.