Sprint LTE network goes live July 15 in five cities

Sprint(s s) has revealed the official launch date of its new LTE network: July 15. That Sunday it will turn on its new 4G service in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio, promising speeds that far exceed what it can provide over its CDMA networks.

Sprint has already begun seeding the market with LTE handsets, which will give customers with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and S III, the HTC EVO 4G LTE, the LG Viper 4G LTE and the Sierra Wireless(s swir) hotspot immediate access to the network in those markets. Sprint didn’t reveal any more launch markets, though it said it plans to complete its rollout by the end of 2013, covering approximately 250 million people.

As promised, Sprint will keep its unlimited data plans intact and appears to be charging the same rates for all-you-can-eat LTE data as it does for 3G and WiMAX. Sprint said unlimited smartphone plans will start at $80.

Sprint’s network won’t be quite as robust as its competitors. Sprint is using its PCS spectrum for LTE so it can only devote a maximum of 10 MHz to the new 4G network. Meanwhile Verizon(s vz)(s vod) and AT&T(s t) are deploying 20 MHz throughout most of the country. Customers, however, won’t be lacking for speed though. Even in markets where AT&T has only 10 MHz LTE networks, it’s able to deliver average download speeds in excess of 7 Mbps. Sprint’s network should offer similar performance.