Kansas City, Mo. Sprint Corp. announced its arrival onto the wireless broadband scene Thursday, more than a year and a half after one of its top rivals, Verizon Wireless, started offering broadband Internet service.
Overland Park-based Sprint plans to provide mobile broadband service to about 150 million people by early next year. The service, using EV-DO - short for Evolution Data Optimized - technology, will be available in business districts and airports in 34 markets by the end of this month, the company said.
The service already came online this month in half of those markets, including Kansas City.
Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC, offers its wireless broadband service in 43 markets. Cingular Wireless offers a high-speed service using a different technology in six cities and plans to add at least 10 more markets by the end of the year.
Sprint's announcement loosens Verizon's stranglehold on wireless broadband, said Lisa Pierce, vice president of Forrester Research Inc.
"It introduces competition into the market, which is always a good thing," Pierce said. "It looks like Sprint's initial geographical deployment is very limited in metro areas and will be filled out over time."
She said one of the big questions now is whether Sprint's new offering will influence Cingular's deployment of its own broadband service, which uses technology called UMTS.