Sprint says it will start offering high-speed wireless broadband access in dozens of cities this month, expanding to nearly half of the U.S. population by the end of the year.

The service -- priced from about $40 to $90 per month -- is similar to that offered by Verizon Wireless. Both are using a technology called EV-DO. Verizon Wireless began offering the service last year and also expects it to reach half of the population by year's end.

Both companies claim that EV-DO offers connections at speeds comparable to, or better than, wired Digital Subscriber Line connections nearly anywhere they can get a cell phone signal.

EV-DO works through cards that consumers slide into their laptops. Cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) equipped to receive the high-speed service will be offered during the fourth quarter of the year.

Sprint said the service will be available this month in parts of Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas and Miami. By the first quarter of next year, the carrier says it will be available in 60 metropolitan areas.

Cingular Wireless says it will offer a similar service in 15 to 20 cities by the end of the year.