Sprint to roll out LTE in 2012– is HD Voice far behind? And how wide?

Last week Sprint threw WiMAX under the bus, announcing it would be conducting a national rollout of LTE under its Network Vision plan.  Since a number of carriers are wholesaling Sprint capacity, there could be a lot of mobile HD voice in the next three years between Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, and Sprint MVNOs.

Sprint will begin “a rapid national rollout” of LTE on its existing 1900 MHz spectrum by the middle of 2012 and anticipates completing the network build by the end of 2013, with coverage extending to more than 250 million people.  The company expects to launch dual-mode CDMA-LTE devices by mid-2012 with around 15 devices coming throughout the year, including handsets, tablets and data cards.

Verizon Wireless announced AMR-WB would be the standard codec for VoLTE when it introduced voice in 2012.  AT&T has not discussed codecs, but it is likely it will support AMR-WB on LTE when it adds voice to its network.

Sprint is working with Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Samsung to get its underlying 3G/4G integrated network up and running as soon as possible. Alcatel-Lucent is one of two vendors that demonstrated VoLTE on its hardware with Verizon at Mobile World Congress 2011 in February.  Ericsson has been a long-standing proponent of HD voice and was the other vendor involved in Verizon’s HD voice demonstrations.

It’s fair to say Sprint will want to offer HD voice service via AMR-WB to match Verizon Wireless’ offering. 

It is also highly probably that HD voice will be supported not only by Sprint but within its MVNO partners, most specifically cable companies using Sprint for wireless offerings.   It is not clear if HD voice will extend to LightSquared and Sprint’s spectrum “hosting” relationship with the firm.

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