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Sprint Finally Joins 4G LTE Wireless Race 67

Posted by Soulskill
from the sprinting-apparently-is-a-bit-slow dept.
alphadogg writes "Sprint, which has been building up its LTE smartphone lineup this year, Monday finally turned on a 4G LTE network in 15 cities to support those devices. Sprint, which is entering the LTE network race well behind AT&T and Verizon, has initially launched 4G LTE in cities across Georgia, Texas, Missouri and Kansas. Sprint says it will add markets throughout the rest of 2012 and expects to have largely completed its 4G LTE build-out by the end of 2013 (along with enhanced 3G coverage) to address the wireless voice and data needs of 250 million people across the United States. Sprint has some major catching up to do on the 4G LTE network rollout front, though the fact that LTE adoption by customers has been slow at least gives the carrier a bit of breathing room. LTE network demand is expected to surge later this year, assuming Apple rolls out an iPhone 5 with LTE support."
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Sprint Finally Joins 4G LTE Wireless Race

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  • by von_rick (944421) on Monday July 16, 2012 @07:34PM (#40667779) Homepage
    They could roll out as many new technologies they want, but with Sprint it is hard to actually get the coverage and speeds they promise. Unlimited 4G data plans are meaningless if your phones keeps showing the "No service" symbol whenever you are indoors.
    • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Monday July 16, 2012 @08:01PM (#40667973)

      Unlimited 4G data plans are meaningless if your phones keeps showing the "No service" symbol whenever you are indoors.

      Or outdoors. I bought my Evo 4G in, what, 2009? They told me that 4G service was coming to Phoenix "soon". The only time I ever use 4G with Sprint is if I go to Las Vegas. Sprint can take their 4G "network" and blow it out their ass. At this point if I stay with Sprint I'll look forward to being able to use a 4G LTE network sometime in mid 2025.

      • Correction, that would be 2010.

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          My sprint coverage has been 100% everywhere I go across the country (even 5 miles up in an airplane). The only time I lose coverage is a brief 30-minute spot in the PA mountains. But then that's a "dead" spot for all technologies. There's also no TV or radio coverage. Just static.

          • Oh I get coverage, I get all the 3G, sometimes-20kbps-speed network I want. But the only time I turn on the 4G antenna is when I go to another city. You won't find Sprint 4G in Phoenix. We've got over 4 million people living in this area, but no 4G. But Boise, ID; Kenniwick, WA; Layton, UT - all the 4G you want there. Just not in the 6th largest city in the country.

      • by Monoman (8745)

        This is one of the reasons I left Sprint. I gave them two years (bought an EVO 4G the day they came out) and they did nothing but change for the worse.

        It was like like Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. Well I'm no Charlie Brown, you can only yank the ball away from me once ... maybe twice. ;-)

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        I can't get 4g in new orleans on my epic 4g either. Hell, I barely get 3g anywhere.

        My average download speed is under 300kbps, sometimes I get "3g" from sprint that is slower than edge 2g.

        • My average download speed is under 300kbps

          Luxury! A few results from using the speedtest.net app on the "Now Network" here in Phoenix:

          4/12/12 - 97kbps
          1/17/12 - 132kbps
          10/3/11 - 197kbps
          8/2/11 - 35kbps
          3/17/11 - 40kbps

          Right now it is showing a ping of 138ms and a download speed of 189kbps.

    • by glebovitz (202712)

      As many are saying, it depends on where you live. I got excellent service with Sprint in the Boston area. In 7 years I did not drop one call while commuting. I never had a 4G Sprint phone, but the 3G was pretty good. I never felt my phone was getting bad throughput. I could get service even in the subway (probably through service agreements with Verizon).

      Now I have AT&T with an iPhone 4Gs. I can't use my phone in the Subway. Calls made while commuting are dropped 3 to 5 times. The throughput sucks and

      • by P-niiice (1703362)
        Atlanta here. Sprint is excellent. I get coverage pretty much everywhere, and WiMax most places.
    • Lived maybe a 1/4 mile from Clear's headquarters in Kirkland, WA.No signal.

      Going with Sprint was a horrible call for me. Is there any reason to believe they'll do a better job with their 4g LTE?

    • Sprint would get a lot more business if they'd focus on simply having any service at all in the 90% of the country that they ignore.

    • by hazydave (96747)

      Yup. They have much the same problem as T-Mo... they're only on the higher frequency cell band.

      I live in a small wooded lot (24 acres of woods, two of house and yard). I can get Verizon, occasionally, in my cellar. No 4G in the area, but Verizon's on the 850MHz band, for both 2G and 3G, which punches though trees and walls pretty effectively. After all, this used to be the top end of the UHF TV band, back when it went to channel 83.

      Sprint can sometimes be picked up at the end of my driveway. Now sure, some

  • This is part of Sprint's interesting Network Vision project, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp_jpIdr_uw [youtube.com] This allows them to have each tower support all their various networks and should be extendable for future technologies.
  • If wikipedia is accurate it only downloads at 1/3rd of 4G speed.

    • by EmagGeek (574360)

      That's because LTE isn't really 4G.

      • I thought it was HSPA that's not really 4G. [businessinsider.com] LTE seems to be much faster.
        • by Sollord (888521)

          LTE Advanced is a real 4G (1 Gbit/s) standard but what the carriers are pushing as 4G is actually regular LTE which considered to be 3.9G (100 Mbit/s) at most

          It breaks down to basically the list below but anything theoretically capable of doing more then 40Mbit/s is called 4G by marketing
          3G - (300 Kbit/s down) EVDO and WCDMA
          3.5G - (14 Mbit/s Down / 5.7 Mbit/s Up) HSDPA/HSUPA and EVDO Rev. B
          3.75G - (42 Mbit/s Down / 22 Mbit/s Up) HSPA+
          3.9G - (100 Mbit/s Down / 50 Mbit/s Up) LTE and WiMax and HSPA+ rel 8
          4G -

  • by toejam13 (958243) on Monday July 16, 2012 @07:59PM (#40667967)

    At this point, all four major carriers now support LTE. So the next question is: will we start to see handsets that cover the entire LTE frequency smorgasbord that is used within North America?

    Current LTE:
    Band 04 : 1710-1755 UL / 2110-2155 DL - AT&T, T-Mobile, MetroPCS
    Band 12 : 0699-0716 UL / 0729-0746 DL - Verizon, US Cellular
    Band 13 : 0777-0787 UL / 0746-0756 DL - Verizon
    Band 17 : 0704-0716 UL / 0734-0746 DL - AT&T
    Band 25 : 1850-1915 UL / 1930-1995 DL - Sprint
    Band 26 : 0814-0849 UL / 0859-0894 DL - Sprint

    Future LTE:
    Band 02 : 1850-1910 UL / 1930-1990 DL - currently being used for HSPA+ by AT&T and T-Mobile
    Band 41: 2496-2690 TDD - currently being used for WiMax by Clearwire for Sprint

    • by Narrowband (2602733) on Monday July 16, 2012 @08:13PM (#40668059)
      At some point, you'd think it might be more cost effective for the handset manufacturers to start using some form of software defined radio to allow handsets to switch between different bands. Or at least some sort of FPGA solution reprogrammable by something like a firmware update. I suppose there might be some antenna inefficiency as you start switching away from what your antenna is tuned for, but I'm not sure how much.
      • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Monday July 16, 2012 @08:59PM (#40668327)

        Software defined radios are used at towers, because power is cheap and plentiful (vs a portable device).

        Eventually, a chip manufacturer will start building a radio that does the whole swath of LTE. It's just going to be a bit. Remember, LTE still hasn't been around anywhere near as long as CDMA or GSM.

      • by tsotha (720379) on Monday July 16, 2012 @09:53PM (#40668651)
        The biggest problem with LTE for handsets is power. Frequency translations in software are the last thing you want to do if you're worried about battery life.
      • A handset radio subsystem is made of three parts: 1) the modem baseband, doing the digital processing, 2) the RF, pushing the signal between baseband to/from the final RF frequency and 3) the RF front-end (RFFE), doing the filtering and possibly low noise amplification in the reception direction, and power amplification (PA) in the transmit direction.

        Now every time multi-bands support comes up, someone says "SDR" as the magic solution. But SDR applies to the modem baseband part only, and is actually quite
        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Now every time multi-bands support comes up, someone says "SDR" as the magic solution. But SDR applies to the modem baseband part only, and is actually quite common in many existing LTE devices. And it's irrelevant to this issue: the baseband, even if hardware centric, has no problem supporting any bands. Same for most recent RF chips: they're also multibands already.

          Actually, SDRs are capable of receiving up to around 125MHz or so, and transmitting over 600MHz - you can get 250MS/s ADCs and 1.2GU/s (for A

  • by elashish14 (1302231) <profcalc4NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday July 16, 2012 @08:09PM (#40668023)

    Because Sprint has had Wimax since the beginning (longer than any other company has had 4G^H^H 3.5G). The only reason they're changing over is that they're pretty much the only ones that have adopted Wimax instead of LTE. Wimax is still gonna be supported by Sprint into 2014 - there's really no rush to change over.

    And honestly, there's really no difference between Wimax and LTE either outside of the fact that more people started adopting LTE after Sprint started building up their Wimax network. It's not like the speeds are worlds apart in the way that '4G' is an improvement over 3G. LTE is a little bit faster than Wimax, but the difference will be totally inconsequential.

    So for that, shame on whoever wrote the title.

    • by shaitand (626655) on Monday July 16, 2012 @09:00PM (#40668331) Journal

      Which would be fine if new 4g phones supported wimax and if sprint had any wimax coverage. But the wimax coverage is just as crappy as this new 4g lte coverage and overlaps it.

      You'd think they'd build 4g lte in at least the major cities where they don't have 4g coverage so that there would be 4g options for most places. As it stands they've spent what is no doubt a great deal of investment capital to bring 4g coverage to those who already have it! If anyone really wanted 4g in these places they are probably already locked in a 4g contract so there won't likely be much revenue coming from this one.

      • by markdavis (642305)

        I agree with you, but you should note that the Sprint LTE rollout *is* coming more quickly to many areas that don't have WiMax already (I have been monitoring it pretty closely). So the order is not the same (I actually can't quite understand the pattern).

        More importantly, they are upgrading 3G in many areas at both similar and different times- which will impact far more users. (There are reports of great 3G updates already in areas nowhere near ready for LTE upgrades).

    • by afidel (530433)
      There IS a rush to transition to LTE, handset availability and the fact that Clear has been a horrible partner that never met the coverage or speed targets that were originally planned. Sprint thought they would build out their 4G network cheaply and quickly by piggybacking on a network that was already being built out, but it never really worked out. I've had a 4G handset for the last 18+ months and almost never get 4G coverage even though I live in a launch market (hell the store where I bought my phone d
    • In all fairness LTE is more efficient than WiMAX for a given bandwidth and frequency, but it's not earth shattering. Let's say roughly a 15% gain (to be taken with a dash of salt, it's from memory).

      The important point to understand when making a comparison is that it's not only the protocol used that matters, the bandwidth available and the frequency used have very important effects. In the case of WiMAX in the US, it's only been deployed in at high frequencies (2.6 GHz). The higher the frequency, the big
  • As a current AT&T LTE phone owner living in a major city without LTE I wouldn't say Sprint is too far behind. I check weekly At&t's LTE rollout page, and just like usually they just don't seem to have any interest in even trying to compete with Verizon even in major metro areas. I stay with them solely because of company discount, but this waiting game is just a joke. If Sprint has any interest they can match or exceed AT&T's presence very quickly. Just like T-mobile, AT&T seems happy just t
    • by fnj (64210)

      That's really encouraging that Sprint is not too far behind the worst carrier in the history of the world .

    • I've gotten upwards of 17-25Mbps down on T-mobile's HSPA+ network with my Galaxy Nexus. "4G" or not, that's fast enough for my mobile needs.

    • Verizon is probably the LTE leader at this point. I don't exactly live in a huge city (appx. 400k people) and Verizon turned up LTE here last October. Although I'm a Sprint user and while Sprint works fine here, the data speeds frequently leave much to be desired.

      They (Sprint) did put together this interactive network upgrade map [sprint.com] that's interesting.

    • I'm just north of Houston, in a major suburb. AT&T speeds are decent, not great. 2 years ago, I had an HTC Incredible from Verizon: just a hair slower than my iPhone 3G at the time (on AT&T). For the last couple of years, I've had Clear as a backup to my DSL connection. At times it's actually faster, but too much use and they cap to hideous speeds, so I only use in emergencies (or when traveling). I tried replacing with a Verizon LTE MiFi: speed was bad. Worse than bad. Worse than Clear when they ca

  • "Actually, it's pronounced 'mill-e-wah-que' which is Algonquin for 'the good land.'"
    ...unless you are trying to use your 4G phone with Sprint. Then it's the not-so-good-land.
    • by tsotha (720379)
      Ah, I see the problem. You didn't get the entire translation. It's actually Algonquin for "the good land for beer".
    • by afidel (530433)
      Milwaukee was added to the fall 2012 Network Vision roadmap along with Cleveland back in April. We're technically third round but we'll be the first two third round cities and will be started before the later second round cities are finished.
  • Sprint: "Hey guys, we've picked up 4G... you should now have ISDN equivalent speeds instead of 56K-esque you had with our 3G!". Maybe I'm just bitter because of all the remote desktop sessions I have to do over those slow Sprint air cards. Just marginally more usable with LANDesk than 56K.
  • I wish they'd hurry up and get to my area. I love my Galaxy Nexus, but it's really irritating to have to pay the 4G surcharge when the 4G isn't even on the schedule to come to my area.

  • Not to worry. Sprint will get it 40% rolled out to about 8-10 metro areas - most which today are in Texas, Missouri and Georgia. And then it will do what Sprint does best. Fail, screw it up and slowly kill it.

    As a long time Sprint customer I can tell you that 3G is a zero point zero bps joke, WiMax never got rolled out and my 'area' isn't scheduled for LTE until the end of 2013 which in practice means a tiny sliver of coverage maybe sometime in 2014. I live in a metro area of over a million people in the se

  • Remember that Verizon is claiming in court that it has a free speech right to censor all Internet traffic across its networks [dottech.org]. That's right, their censorship of your free speech is their free speech. And corporations, of course, have stronger free speech rights than individuals. So claims Verizon. Before federal courts that sometimes think like that themselves.

    Personally, I use Sprint's networks, but through Ting [ting.com]. Their 3G coverage is decent in the more populated parts of rural New England (that is larger t

  • by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:26AM (#40673471) Homepage

    I already left sprint for Straight Talk. $45/month with a Palm Pre 3 and 4G.

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