Sprint let some hot news fly at CTIA today: The first commercially available phone that will support the WiMAX next-generation cell network will be the HTC EVO 4G. It’s a powerhouse of a phone, running a 1GHz processor even more powerful than what’s under the hood of the Nexus One.

While AT&T and Verizon quibble over 3G coverage, a new generation of wireless networks are somewhat quietly being built out. Sprint is backing a technology called WiMAX, which it has already rolled out in a number of major markets — and it just announced the addition of seven more coming this year.

Both AT&T and Verizon are supporting a competing technology called LTE or Long Term Evolution, which promises similar speed and throughput gains, but won’t be ready until much later this year. Verizon has stated it won’t have any handsets to take advantage of LTE until at least the middle of 2011.

In other words, the HTC EVO 4G is an important device not only because of its blockbuster specs (4.3-inch screen, Snapdragon processor, 1GB built-in memory, 512MB RAM, Wi-Fi, 720p video recording and playback, HDMI out to play content on your TV, 8-megapixel camera with flash and a lower resolution front-facing camera for videoconferencing, and ability to Android 2.1), but also as the first phone to support the next-generation 4G WiMAX network for theoretically blazing fast data speeds.

It can also act as a portable hotspot to connect your other devices to broadband Internet speeds — if you’re familiar with the MiFi device, it’s like that but built into your phone. And it will be available this summer.

Anyone else drooling yet?

[imgs courtesy of Engadget; check out more in their hands-on gallery and as compared to the iPhone and Nexus One]

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Tags: 4G, android, CTIA, CTIA2010, htc, HTC EVO 4G, sprint, WiMax