July 7, 2005 11:55 AM PDT
Sprint touts high-speed wireless service
Plans for the wireless-data service, which is designed to provide broadband-like speeds from phones and other mobile devices, were first announced last year.
Now, the company says, the service will be available starting this month, in airports and business districts in 34 markets.
The carrier also said it aims to offer the service broadly in 14 metropolitan areas by the third quarter, making the service available to 92 million people.
By the fourth quarter, Sprint said, the service will be expanded to more cities and available to 143 million people. Further expansions in 2006 will bring the potential customer base to 150 million people, the carrier said.
The EV-DO service offers average download speeds of 400kbps to 700kbps, Sprint said, and peak rates of up to 2mbps. The carrier says the high speeds make EV-DO useful for media streaming, game playing and video conferencing.
Sprint said cards for its EV-DO service are already being sold through business sales and retail channels. For business users, a monthly plan that allows downloads of up to 40MB may cost $40, with a price cap of $90 during months when a customer's usage is high.
Another Sprint package offers unlimited access for $80 per month.
The company said it would introduce EV-DO handsets and applications in the fourth quarter of 2005.
Sprint is following in the footsteps of Verizon Wireless, the country's second-biggest wireless provider, which started its service in 2003. Verizon has services in about 50 markets using EV-DO technology. That carrier also charges an $80 monthly fee for unlimited use.
Verizon plans coverage for 150 million potential customers by the end of 2005. Cingular Wireless, a venture of SBC Communications and BellSouth, plans to have high-speed services in about 15 to 20 markets by year-end.
Reuters contributed to this report.