NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sprint Nextel (S.N) has a long waiting list of customers looking to buy HTC Corp’s (2498.TW) EVO, its most advanced high-speed wireless phone yet, executives for the No. 3 U.S. mobile service said.
Sprint expects the launch of the first U.S. fourth-generation (4G) phone will help it stem the loss of customers. Depending on the launch timing, analysts say EVO should compete well against Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) iPhone.
Pricing and availability for the phone were expected to be announced later on Wednesday at a Sprint event in New York.
The operator hopes EVO will give it a head start over rivals such as market leader Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications (VZ.N) and Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L), which has said it expects to offer its first 4G phone in 2011.
“We believe its going to appeal across a number of fronts,” Matt Carter, the head of Sprint’s 4G business told Reuters in an interview and in particular he cited mobile users of social networking Websites such as Facebook.
He also sees the device as only a part of Sprint’s plan for
regaining ground lost to Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc (T.N), which have both won customers at Sprint’s expense for years.
“They’ve been eating off what they perceived as a dead corpse but we’re back,” Carter said.
The executive told Reuters that Sprint also was in talks with electronics companies including from General Electric (GE.N) and Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) about embedding WiMax connections into consumer devices.
Carter declined comment on timing for any products but said that devices being discussed included everything from e-readers to cameras and washing machines to medical equipment.
“What we’re trying to do here is not think like a traditional carrier, to advance new ways of thinking in the market,” he said.
The company has promised a summer launch for the new phone, which will run on a high-speed wireless network that its Clearwire Corp CLWR.O venture is building based on an emerging technology known as WiMax.
Apple also is expected to debut a new iPhone this summer. But Carter said people interested in iPhone likely already own one.
Also on Wednesday, Dan Schulman, head of Sprint’s prepaid business, said during a webcast of a Jefferies investor conference that the company is also poised to launch new prepaid service offerings.
Sprint will aim its next prepaid offering at older phone users who want “no nonsense” mobile phone services and do not care about having the latest advanced devices.
Reporting by Sinead Carew. Editing by Robert MacMillan and Carol Bishopric