Sprint 'Project Leapfrog' rumors claim LTE network upgrade is underway

If we had a dime for every time Sprint CEO Dan Hesse (or spectrum partner Clearwire) has talked about a possible migration to LTE, we'd have... well, at least several dimes. A new rumor that's popped up from a couple sources today -- consulting firm Gerson Lehrman Group and GizmoFusion -- claims that the LTE move is now a done deal, with Sprint signing contracts with infrastructure supplies Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, and Samsung to roll out service over the course of the next two to three years as it decommissions iDEN on its 800MHz spectrum. That said, CDMA isn't about to go away: the company has already committed to upgrading its CDMA footprint with 1X Advanced over the next several years, too. GLG claims that Sprint's going Lone Ranger on this -- it'll be looking to partner up with other companies like Clearwire or T-Mobile where it makes sense, but the decision to move to LTE so far has been purely internal.

On a related note, GizmoFusion is claiming that Sprint will start shipping the WiFi-only BlackBerry PlayBook between late March and mid-April ahead of the WiMAX version later this year, along with touchscreen / QWERTY hybrid and full-touch BlackBerry handsets -- both of which we've seen rumored recently. LTE-compatible hardware, assuming this is all legitimate, is probably a ways off yet.

[Thanks, Stoopered]