Sprint's high-speed Spark LTE service just got bigger. The carrier has announced six new cities that can enjoy speeds up to 60 Mbps, including Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Fort Lauderdale. That brings the total to 11 markets. Sprint has also added two new Spark-compatible devices: the curved LG Flex phone and Netgear Mingle hotspot for Virgin Mobile.
Sprint had previously rolled out Spark to New York, Chicago, Miami and other major metro areas. The carrier expects to reach 100 million Americans by the end of 2014 and blanket 100 of the largest cities within the next three years. What you need to tap into those speeds is a tri-band device, one that will operate on the 800 MHz, 1.9 GHz and 2.1 GHz bands.
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The first Spark-compatible phones were the LG G2, Samsung Galaxy Mega and Galaxy S4 mini, and the HTC One Max. Now the LG Flex has joined the lineup at CES 2014. The handset has a curved and flexible 6-inch screen that's designed to better hug your face, as well as a self-healing back that's scratch resistant. Add in a sharp 13-MP camera and a fast Snapdragon 800 CPU, and you have a seriously attractive speedster.
Those looking for contract-free mobile broadband for their laptop, tablet or other mobile device will appreciate the Netgear Mingle, the first tri-band prepaid device for Virgin Mobile. Service starts at $5 per day, or you can get 1.5GB for $25 per month or 6GB for $55. Other features include 1.8-inch display and 12.5 hours of battery life.
During our initial Spark service test in New York City, our Galaxy Mega doubled the speeds of AT&T, but the throughput didn't reach 60 Mbps. Still, having extra speed is welcome when you're streaming video or downloading large files.
Sprint also announced a tri-band fixed wireless router for businesses in the Netgear 4G LTE Gateway. The Spark-compatible device improves in-building coverage and supports up to 80 users.