Apple’s next-gen smartphone is widely expected to feature 4G LTE networking like the newly-released iPad. Rumors peg the product release for later this year, but no real evidence for the device has surfaced quite yet, including carrier partnerships. AT&T and Verizon are expected to be onboard as usual, but what about Sprint? The iPhone 4S debuted on all three carriers last October, but Sprint is relatively new to its Apple partnership.
According to comments from Sprint CFO Joe Euteneuer today, Sprint will be able to sell the 4G iPhone when it’s debuted by Apple.
The problem with Sprint is that its 4G footprint is pretty much nonexistent. In fact, Sprint will only be rolling out LTE to 6 cities by midyear. Apple decided to not offer the LTE iPad on Sprint’s network presumably for that reason. AT&T and Verizon currently sell the third-gen tablet on their competitive LTE networks.
Dow Jones reports:
Nonetheless, Euteneuer said Tuesday at an investor conference that Sprint’s Apple contract is similar to those of rivals AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless, and that the carrier isn’t being held to any 4G LTE coverage requirements. In comparison, the other two carriers have rolled out 4G LTE to large swaths of the country.
“If you make the assumption that they launch a device at a similar time that they did last year, you’re basically done with the major markets” on Sprint’s 4G LTE buildout, Euteneuer said, noting the carrier plans to initially cover around 100 million Americans. “So I don’t think we are really disadvantaged at all.”
Sprint made a huge financial gamble when it jumped on the iPhone bandwagon. The carrier committed to purchasing around $20 billion in iPhones from Apple during the life of its contract, and Sprint isn’t expected to turn a profit until at least 2015. A recent earnings report highlights that Sprint didn’t see a huge surge of new customers for the iPhone, despite the fact that the 4S set the carrier’s single-day launch record. If Sprint can’t get its LTE network ready for the fifth-gen iPhone, it will likely see significant losses.
Sprint currently predicts to offer LTE coverage for 250 million Americans by 2013, putting its network on par with the likes of AT&T and Verizon.