Sprint says its network will be eligible for LTE iPhone

Even though Sprint became an official iPhone partner last fall, Apple snubbed the carrier earlier this month when it launched its new 4G-capable iPad to the masses. The tablet has been a staggering hit, breaking a number of various sales records.

There’s also been some speculation that Sprint will be left out of Apple’s LTE party again this fall — assuming the next iPhone features the tech — due to its lack of LTE coverage. But the Kansas-based operator doesn’t seem to be too concerned…

Dow Jones passes on some interesting comments made by Sprint’s CFO Joe Euteneuer earlier today:

“Nonetheless, Euteneuer said Tuesday at an investor conference that Sprint’s Apple contract is similar to those of rivals AT&T and Verizon Wireless, and that the carrier isn’t being held to any 4G LTE coverage requirements. In comparison, the other two carriers have rolled out 4G LTE to large swaths of the country.”

Eligible or not, Sprint is going to have its work cut out for it if an LTE iPhone materializes later this year. With its first LTE markets expected to go live this spring, Sprint’s rollout will be at least a year behind AT&T. And two years behind Verizon.

Even if you ignore the fact that Apple’s recently-released tablet features the technology, there’s still a stack of evidence that suggests we’ll see an LTE iPhone in 2012. Just last week we discovered some 4G clues inside the source code of iOS 5.1.