If Sprint lights up an LTE network, and there are no iOS devices on it, does it really make an impact?

After spending a couple years wandering in the ill-fated desert that was WiMax, Sprint has finally joined the Long Term Evolution (LTE) and flipped the switch on their new, shoulda-done-it-sooner 4G network. Sprint CEO, Dan Hesse, announced the July 15 as the go-live day a couple of weeks ago.

"The performance of both the 4G LTE and improved 3G networks are exceeding our expectations and we are pleased with the progress of the entire Network Vision program."

With the launch on July 15, Sprint will have debuted 4G LTE to millions of people in five major metropolitan areas with more market launches in 2012 to be announced later this year. By the end of 2013, Sprint expects to have largely completed the build out of its all-new 4G LTE nationwide network -- with an enhanced 3G network -- covering 250 million people across the United States.

Only they don't have any iOS devices to run on it.

Sprint does have the iPhone 4S, and the bank busting contract to prove it, but the iPhone 4S doesn't run on LTE anyway. The iPhone 4S only runs on Sprint's the slow-as-molasses-in-Winterfell CDMA network. We're talking 2-3 mbps, compared to HSPA 14.4 mbps networks on the GSM side. (Verizon has the same problem.)

What Sprint doesn't have is the new iPad, which does run on LTE networks, including AT&T and Verizon. But not Sprint. At least not yet. Whether or not that changes in the near or distant future, and whether or not deploying an LTE network factors into when and if it happens, only Apple and Sprint no for sure.

But for now, if you live in Kansas City, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston or Atlanta, and you just got Sprint LTE, you're going to have to go somewhere else to get a device to run on it.

That raises the question -- if the most popular smartphone in the world doesn't run on LTE, and the most popular tablet in the world doesn't run on Sprint's LTE, how important is it that Sprint is lighting it up today?

And how important is it that Sprint build it out quickly so that, come October and the iPhone 5, Sprint isn't the only U.S. iPhone carrier without an LTE iPhone on a strong, well deployed LTE network?