Sprint announced its first 4G LTE smartphone, the LG Viper, signaling the company's commitment to boosting its high-speed network despite spectrum and financial difficulties.
The LG Viper debuts on April 12 for $100, launching Sprint's entry into the 4G LTE market at a time when the the company's limited coverage pales in comparison to rivals Verizon and AT&T. The Viper is an eco-friendly Android phone, and comes with built-in NFC capability for Google Wallet purchases, two features setting it apart from the crowd.
"LG Viper pairs perfectly with our unlimited data plans to bring customers the benefit of new technology, including our upcoming 4G LTE capabilities at a great price," said Sprint vice president of product development David Owens, indicating the company plans to leverage its unlimited data plan to differentiate itself from competitors.
Sprint developed its 4G LTE network to keep up with competitors and carry Apple products, but its expansion ran up against many obstacles. The carrier's spectrum deal with LightSquared fell apart, leaving it scrambling for extra bandwidth to support its networks.
Sprint's original intention with its 4G LTE network centered on Apple, but the debut of the LG Viper suggests the company is turning to less costly handsets to regain its footing. Verizon is putting the pressure on other networks to catch up with its extensive 4G coverage, and Sprint's decision to quickly introduce a phone compatible with the speedier service shows the company understands the competition and is willing to adapt to setbacks.
Sprint likely is betting customer satisfaction with its 4G LTE coverage for the LG Viper, coupled with its promise of unlimited data, will help dismiss fears the network is not ready, as well as ease investor concerns over leadership.