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Sprint's mysterious Oct. 7 event fuels more iPhone, LTE speculation

Sprint poured more fuel on the iPhone rumor fire Tuesday by announcing a mysterious "strategy update" for press and analysts scheduled for Oct. 7 in New York.

In its email to reporters and analysts, Sprint provided no details of what the strategy update would include, leading to further speculation in the tech press that Sprint had scheduled the event to announce that it was getting its very own version of Apple's coveted iPhone 5 smartphone. Business Insider, for instance, said that the strategy session would be good for anyone who "needed more evidence Sprint is getting the iPhone 5." Zach Epstein of the Boy Genius Report wasn't quite as sure that this would be an iPhone event but said that he "wouldn't be surprised if Sprint is a bit more talkative in October when it comes to Apple smartphones" than it has been over the past few months. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Sprint, along with AT&T and Verizon, would carry the new iPhone 5 whenever it gets released this fall.

BACKGROUND: iPhone rumored to be coming to Sprint and T-Mobile

The other big possibility for Sprint is that it will announce further plans to invest and deploy an LTE network to complement its WiMax network and expand its mobile broadband reach. Dieter Bohn of ThisIsMyNext speculated that Sprint will likely issue some kind of new network roadmap that involves its partners at Clearwire and LightSquared helping to build out a new LTE network together.

"There are plenty of strategies that need updating at Sprint, but most prominent among them is probably its 4G roadmap," he wrote. "Although Sprint was first out of the 4G gate with WiMAX, the accepted wisdom these days is that the carrier should start thinking about an LTE transition. Sprint has long pursued a somewhat complicated strategy of partnering with other companies to build out its wireless network instead of owning everything end-to-end, so the fact that it will need to hold a press conference to fully explain future moves is no surprise."

This past summer Sprint struck a deal with wireless broadband and satellite network provider LightSquared to deploy and operate a nationwide LTE network that will use a 40MHz chunk of spectrum on the 1.6GHz band. Even though LightSquared will be wholesaling access to the LTE network, Sprint will still have the option to enhance its own 4G capacity by purchasing "up to 50% of LightSquared's expected L-Band 4G capacity" to use for its own services.

And earlier this month, Sprint's WiMax partner Clearwire said that it was looking to deploy an LTE network alongside its WiMax network if it could raise enough capital to support a new build-out. Clearwire's initial plans are to deploy LTE in markets that experience high levels of wireless traffic, presumably to provide some additional capacity to its biggest markets. Clearwire hasn't yet said how much capital it will need to build out a new LTE network or who specifically will be providing the additional capital. In its latest financial statement, the company merely said that it was working on multiple fronts to secure additional capital for its new services.

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