Sprint claimed Tuesday that it now has 3G cellular data coverage in 141 U.S. markets and 250 airports and that it will expand to 220 markets by early next year.
The cellular operator started its rollout of its 3G EV-DO service last summer and, at the time, was far behind the 3G rollout of Verizon Wireless. While the coverage maps of the two companies vary, Sprint should be roughly equal to Verizon in the first quarter of next year.
The largest U.S. carrier, Cingular, is behind both Sprint and Verizon in terms of 3G rollouts but has outlined an ambitious plan to catch up. In addition, Cingular has said it will start rolling out next-generation 3G service, HSDPA, later this year in a few markets and will expand the availability of that service in 2006. While Sprint and Verizon's 3G service provides typical speeds of between 300 Kbps and 500 Kbps, HSDPA is expected to provide typical speeds of as high as 1 Mbps.
All the 3G services are currently aimed at business users. Like Verizon Wireless, Sprint charges about $60 for unlimited access to existing Sprint voice customers.